The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said thefts of firearms from dealers more than doubled in Colorado last year, and it seems to be part of a national trend of rising gun thefts.
There were 273 guns reported stolen from dealers in 2016, the ATF said, compared to 121 in 2015 and 56 in 2014. The 2016 number represents a 10-year high.
Nationwide, there were 7,858 guns stolen in robberies and burglaries in 2016, the highest number on record.
“We are very concerned about the rise in gun thefts. These guns will not be used for hunting or sport; they are destined for future crimes and are a threat to public and officer safety,” ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge Debora Livingston said in a press release.
Livingston said the ATF works closely with area police departments to track these guns when possible and is also working with gun dealers to make sure they’re aware of the rise in break-ins and do more to secure their inventory.
In 2016, the ATF and Denver metro area police departments arrested 15 suspects and recovered 55 stolen firearms, some at the scenes of violent crimes, the bureau said. Investigators believe the burglaries may have been loosely connected and not just “copycat” crimes.
Most of the thefts occurred after-hours burglaries, and handguns made up 63 percent of the stolen firearms.
Rewards are still active for some of the burglaries, and anyone with information is encouraged to contact ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867) or Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-7867. People can also submit a tip through ATF’s new “reportit” app available at www.reportit.com and in Google Play and the Apple app store. Tips can be anonymous and confidential.