Are gun thefts in McDonough part of larger trend?

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Burglars have targeted a popular gun store for the second time in two weeks; stealing dozens of guns and leaving owners of the American Heritage Gun Range wondering what is next.

“Once they gained entry into the building. They were in and out in approximately two minutes,” said McDonough Police Department Major Kyle Helgerson.

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Surveillance video showed the two thieves wore masks and gloves as well as carried backpacks. Police suspect the two fast moving crooks are the same ones who broke into the American Heritage Gun Range overnight were the same ones who broke into the same business two weeks ago.

“The suspects on the surveillance images appear to be the same build, the same description,” said Major Helgerson.

General Manager George Mazzant said the crooks did not touch the jewelry, cash or most of the rifles.

“They've broke in twice in two weeks and they’ve taken over 100 guns,” said Mazzant.

According to the ATF, there have been 34 burglaries or larcenies of weapons in Georgia this year. A larceny involves theft of a gun during business hours. A burglary involves theft after stores close. The majority of guns are stolen during burglaries. In McDonough, there were three larcenies and two burglaries. Covington comes in second with two burglaries and two larcenies. The ATF's Nero Priester said it's difficult to determine how many of the gun theft cases are connected.

“Some of them are random and rather independent, some others are you know there may be a crew that's targeting several FFL's,” said Priester.

An FFL is a federal firearms licensee, a legal gun seller like American Heritage. Priester said gun thefts are “all over the place” and part of a larger trend.

“The Southeast in general has been hit kind of hard this year, there are several in North Carolina, South Carolina. It's just a trend right now,” said Priester.

It's a trend Mazzant for which he wants to end. But Mazzant said if the thieves do strike again, he has a little surprise waiting for them.

“If they do, we are ready for them.” said Mazzant.

Priester said the ATF is planning on holding a summit for legal gun sellers in Georgia sometime in July to teach the best practices of storing and selling guns safely and with minimal loss.

Mazzant offered to host the summit at his store which is equipped with an event center.