MABLETON, Ga. - Georgia has seen a surge in the number of firearms stolen from gun shops. The Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been watching the numbers skyrocket. Already this year, the number of firearms stolen from gun shops in the state has surpassed the number for all of last year.
“Last year we may have had 450 guns , we're already close to 600 this year and we're just over half way into the year,” said ATF Special Agent Nero Priester.
Agent Priester said that's more than they've ever seen this early in the year. He said the ATF has ten agents dedicated to firearms trafficking and gun store break-ins. They also held a federal safety firearms summit this summer to work with gun shop owners on how to protect their inventory.
“One of the recommendations we made was to put concrete barriers in front of the business so no one could drive a truck through the business, for the smaller shops who can't afford that, we tell them to park a vehicle in front. We also encourage all the dealers to put their inventory up at night, locking the guns in a safe,” said Agent Priester.
Jimmy Groover owns Dixie Gun & Pawn in Mableton. He said he's been broken into 18 times.
“I've done everything the safety experts tell me to do,” said Groover.
He said he keeps adding levels of security, from cameras to bars on the windows to special film on the glass. He said he also locks all his guns up at night, yet earlier this month his store was hit again.
“You sell guns, you're a target,” said Groover.
The ATF said Georgia isn't alone. Agents said neighboring states are also seeing an uptick in gun shop burglaries. Agents won't speculate on why this is happening, saying it is likely a combination of factors. They're trying to be proactive by working with the shop owners to try to deter the crooks.