LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) - Brazen break-ins at gun stores across the country are being reported, and in the last two nights, two gun stores in Littleton were burglarized -- with up to 60 guns stolen.
Federal investigators say the number of licensed gun stores being hit by thieves is growing nationwide.
Lisa Meiman, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said these types of thefts are a priority.
"We saw 56 firearms stolen from licensed gun dealers in 2014, 121 in 2015, and now we're at about 119, 120 or so in 2016 … and we're only half way through the year," she said.
Those numbers include the dozens of guns stolen in the past two days.
Colorado Gun Brokers on West Bowles Avenue was broken into Tuesday morning, and 30 guns were taken.
Little over 24 hours later, Triple J Armory on East County Line Road was also hit. Investigators say thieves got away with anywhere between 20 and 30 guns there.
Meiman says they are now looking for similarities between the two cases.
"We're looking into a possible connection, however its way too soon to tell if they are connected," she said.
The ATF is now working closely with local law enforcement to identify suspects and recover the guns. Meiman said almost all of these stolen firearms will end up on the black market.
"They may be trafficked overseas and sold that way, a lot of time they're used for bartering so you may have the suspect sell it for drugs or some other type of currency. They almost always end up in crimes," Meiman said.
Officials recommend gun dealers lock up their firearms in a safe after business hours.
Karen Morfitt Joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around metro Denver. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.
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