Roseville/Placer News

Rocklin gun shop owner, city spar over store’s security barriers

Rob Adams acknowledges that the concrete barriers abutting the sidewalk at strategic locations in front of his Rocklin gun shop aren’t attractive, but he argues that security ought to outweigh aesthetics when it comes to preventing guns from falling into the hands of the wrong people.

After break-ins last month at gun shops in Rocklin and Folsom, in which burglars used a small sport-utility vehicle to smash glass and crash through metal gates, Adams reached out on Facebook to solicit ideas for preventing a similar break-in at his store, Sacramento Black Rifle, on Blue Oaks Boulevard.

A customer responded, dropping off several concrete barriers like those used in highway construction projects. The barriers were placed in parking spaces next to the sidewalk in front of the store’s windows and doors.

But Rocklin officials told Adams the concrete barriers violated city code.

Neither customers nor businesses in the commercial center in one of Rocklin’s newer business districts have complained about them, he said.

“Everybody’s said how excited they are that we are being proactive,” Adams said.

Michael Young, a spokesman for the city of Rocklin, said a member of the code enforcement staff visited Sacramento Black Rifle after receiving an anonymous complaint about the barriers. He said the business was provided with a list of other security options.

Code enforcement officials will be in touch with Adams to try to resolve the matter and avoid citing the business for a code violation, he said.

Smash-and-grab robberies of gun shops aren’t common, but they have been on the rise locally, according to federal officials.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made arrests last month after they found the black Honda CRV linked to the July 13 gun shop robberies in Rocklin and Folsom in front of an Oakland home.

The smash-and-grab robberies occurred at the Rocklin Armory, 4800 Granite Drive in Rocklin, and at STS Guns, 691 E. Bidwell St. in Folsom. An attempted burglary also was reported at The Gun Room, 9221 Survey Road in Elk Grove.

Helen Dunkel, spokeswoman for the ATF’s San Francisco Field Division, said the incidents were part of a growing trend in the Sacramento area, noting that at least 12 similar incidents had taken place in the area in the past six months.

Adams also owns gun shops in Nevada and Idaho and is preparing to open a store at Greenback Lane and Fair Oaks Boulevard in Citrus Heights this fall. He describes his business as a “mom and pop” corporation.

Although Sacramento Black Rifle sells some hunting rifles, Adams said the business specializes in guns for personal protection. Many of his customers are police officers, he said, and the firm has contracts with the military and state agencies.

Increasing restrictions on sales of weapons to law-abiding citizens have created an underground culture attractive to thieves, Adams said.

“They know they can get rid of guns very quickly on the black market,” he said.

Adams said he spent $30,000 on cameras for video surveillance in and around the store. He said he previously approached the landlord about installing bollards – thick posts meant to block vehicles – around the building but was told the city didn’t allow them in that part of Rocklin.

Young said bollards are an option and are allowed for businesses throughout the city.

He said the Police Department is trying to set up a meeting with Rocklin’s three independent firearms sellers to discuss security measures and concerns. Recommended measures include installing video surveillance, an alarm system and locking inventory in a safe when it is unattended.

Terry Fong, owner of the Rocklin Armory, said he took those measures and left the lights on in the store at night so would-be burglars could see that there was nothing out for them to steal. But that didn’t deter them.

After the break-in at his store, Fong said he received permission from his landlord and the city to install bollards in front of the business after presenting plans to the city for approval. Four bollards, painted black and with decorative plastic covers, are now in front of the store. The cost, he said, was about $1,600.

Adams said it would cost him thousands of dollars to install bollards on the two sides of his building that are bordered by the parking lot, a cost he is not prepared to incur right now. He noted that he doesn’t own the building and has no guarantee that his lease will be renewed when it expires in February.

Adams said he already met with police in Citrus Heights regarding security at his store there, where he intends to install either decorative bollards or planters as barriers.

Young said Rocklin allows both those options, as well as pillars. He said the city has two main concerns with the concrete barriers: Because they take up part of a parking space, vehicles might extend beyond the space into the parking lot, and the bollards could block handicap access to the sidewalk.

He didn’t rule out the possibility that the concrete barriers would be allowed if the such concerns were eliminated.

Adams said the handicap access is farther down the sidewalk, beyond the front of his store, and is not obstructed. The parking spaces in which the barriers are located can easily accommodate compact cars, he said, and pickup trucks have parked there without creating a problem.

If a notice of violation is issued, fines begin at $100 a day and can increase to $200, then $500, Young said.

Adams said he is prepared to pay a daily fine rather than remove the barriers.

“To replace the storefront would cost 50 grand,” he said. Although theft of merchandise would be covered by insurance, he said, there is the greater concern of guns ending up in the hands of criminals.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy