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Metro Gun Shops Nervous After Rash Of Burglaries

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Several dozen high-powered guns could be in the hands of criminals.

It comes after burglars broke into five Twin Cities' gun stores in the last year. The latest burglary happened earlier this week at Minnesota Firearms in Fridley, inside Trails End Bass Pro Shop.

The smash and grab left owner Mike Briggs speechless and worried.

"It disturbs me that bad guys have guns on the streets. It disturbs me greatly they're mine, so I want the public to know this," Briggs said.

He's been through this three times since July of last year. Burglars stole 42 handguns and assault rifles total - a $5,700 loss.

And it wasn't easy getting inside the store. Not only did the burglar have to break an outside window, but then they had to weasel through security bars only 7-inches wide to actually get inside and get to those guns.

Last July, burglars hit D. K. Mags in New Brighton. They stole seven assault rifles and a shotgun.

Deputy Director Tony Paetznick with New Brighton Police Department says he has a hunch as to where the weapons have most likely gone.

"We know they're not likely in legitimate hands. When someone breaks in during the night and takes a bunch, they're probably on the Black Market, so to speak, out there, in the underworld, being traded for cash with no tracing of who has them or what they're being used for," Paetznick said.

There are few leads in any of these cases for Federal agents to go on, so the government's offering a reward for the public's help.

Meantime, Mike's offering his own reward for capturing and convicting those responsible.

"It's very upsetting to me that this is happening," Briggs said.

He's also putting in a surveillance system and updating his alarms to deter burglars from coming back.

You can call the Fridley Police Department at (763)572-3629, or contact the St. Paul office of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) if you have any tips.

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