Authorities from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives made arrests and found the vehicle used in connection with the burglaries of two gun shops early Wednesday in Rocklin and Folsom.
Helen Dunkel, spokeswoman for the ATF’s San Francisco Field Division, said agency personnel found the black Honda CRV later that day in front of an Oakland home, where firearms were recovered. She said she couldn’t confirm how many people were arrested Wednesday afternoon near 68th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland.
The smash and grab robberies occurred at STS Guns, 691 East Bidwell St. in Folsom, and the Rocklin Armory, 4800 Granite Drive. There was also an attempted burglary overnight at The Gun Room at 9221 Survey Road in Elk Grove.
Elk Grove Police Department spokesman Christopher Trim said it is unclear whether the attempted burglary at the Elk Grove store was related to the other two burglaries. The California Highway Patrol, Golden Gate Division, reported that the Honda CRV was involved in Rocklin and Folsom burglaries.
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Dunkel said the three incidents add to a growing trend of such burglaries in the Sacramento area. She said at least 12 similar incidents have taken place in the area the past six months. She also said between 230 and 240 firearms have been taken in burglaries in the greater Sacramento area during that time.
Graham Barlowe, resident agent in charge of the Sacramento ATF field office, said there are several reasons the Sacramento area is a hot spot for firearm store burglaries.
“We’re at the intersection of interstate highways traveling north and south and east and west,” Barlowe said. “It’s easy to get in and out. We also have a larger number of firearm stores here than in the Bay Area due to zoning, and overlay that with the criminal community that are interested in committing burglaries, you can understand why there are a number of burglaries of firearm stores here.”
One rifle that was being repaired was stolen from the Rocklin shop, said Sgt. Trent Jewell of the Rocklin Police Department. He said the burglars, described as four or five adults, crashed into the store at 4:08 a.m. and ransacked the shop but did not break into a safe used to store other guns.
The burglars in Folsom forced their way into the store by smashing glass and metal indoor gates with a vehicle about 4:45 a.m. Folsom Police Department spokesman Andrew Bates said investigators did not want to release how many guns were stolen.
Barlowe said the ATF has found that most of the stolen guns are used by criminal organizations or are sold on the black market.
“Stolen guns have high value,” Barlowe said. “The most desirable thing from burglaries is cash, but firearms are second to that. A firearm is something you can show to someone and quickly identify if it is desirable and what they’re willing to pay for it.”
Because California has strict regulatory gun laws, Barlowe said some criminal organizations go to other states such as Nevada, Arizona or Oregon to obtain firearms or resort to stealing them.
Gun stores have placed their weapons in safes at night to prevent burglars from making off with merchandise and also have installed alarm and video systems. Those recordings can help law enforcement identify and catch burglars.
“We are actively investigating every incident where we have a burglary of a firearm,” Barlowe said. “That is a federal offense and we follow up with every resource we have. It is a very high priority for us.”