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Investigators: Reason For Spike In Gun Store Thefts Still Not Clear

ROCKLIN (CBS13) - The four gun store break-ins happened early this morning, and surveillance cameras helped law enforcement find and arrest suspects connected with at least one of the thefts.

We spoke to a local law enforcement official about why we're seeing a spike in people targeting gun stores, and the answer isn't that clear-cut.

Stores in Rocklin, Folsom, Lodi, and Elk Grove were all hit Wednesday morning and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is trying to figure out who's responsible.

"I can tell you that they're not all connected; they're not all the same person or persons but some of them we believe are," said ATF resident agent in charge Graham Barlowe.

Surveillance video from Rocklin Armory shows the suspects backing their SUV through the front window.
Officers tracked the license plate to Oakland, and hours later, the suspects were arrested with a number of firearms.

But this isn't the first time we've seen thefts like this in the area.

Just two months ago, three separate thefts in Elk Grove and Rocklin led law enforcement to investigate.

"We look for commonalities between the crimes. We look for the time and date to start out with and then and we go from there," said Barlowe.

Sometimes the search takes investigators nationwide. But what about locally?

"We have found with this most recent trend that there have been a number of burglaries in Northern California," said Barlowe.

Why are firearms thefts on the rise?

"We have gotten a number of people that have decided to make this their business and they've been very vigorous in trying to steal firearms," Rocklin Armory co-owner Walter Ford.

ATF data shows there are more licensed gun retailers in the Sacramento area than in the Bay Area, so gun store owners here have to be on high alert.

"We leave the lights on to clearly indicate that there's nothing on the walls," said Ford.

One of many precautions Ford takes to keep his merchandise safe and secure. The ATF recommends gun store owners lock up inventory at night, use a high quality video system, have a good alarm system and keep good records of their weapons.

As for the suspects arrested, the ATF is looking into a possible connection to other crimes.

Ford already planned to install barriers to prevent thieves from driving through the window, but the installation isn't scheduled until next week.

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