Even with relatively stable firearms sales a growing number of individuals believe that free beats using a credit card or cash.
Increasingly over at least the past few years the number of firearms thefts and firearms-related robberies has climbed appreciably.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly and simply referred to as the BATF) reports that in the 2015 calendar year alone statistics show that 436 federally licensed firearms dealers reported gun store burglaries. Last year that figure sharply rose to 558 such instances.
Translated into actual numbers, the 2015 calendar year saw the heist of 4,721 firearms, a figure that jumped to 7,488 in calendar year 2016, says the BATF.
Going back a little further, the figures supplied by the BATF show that in calendar year 2012, there were only 377 burglaries of licensed firearms dealers which resulted in the theft of 4,340 firearms.
As for robberies of federal licensed dealers, in 2012 that figure was just 12, increasing to 33 in calander year 2016. Thus the BATF says that number of (largely) gun store-associated robberies has increased 175 percent.
This jump is seen in the number of firearms stolen during robberies of FFL licensed holders, too, up from 118 in calendar year 2012 to 370 in calendar year 2016; or an increase of 214 percent.
By BATF definition, “Burglary is the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. A robbery is taking anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence. While there is nuance and each case is assessed individually, overwhelmingly you will see that burglaries occur during non-operating hours and robberies occur during operating hours.”
The aforementioned legal description was provided by Suzanne L. Dabkowski, Public Information Officer for the BATF’s Columbus Field Division.
Also, gun stores (BATF’s designated Type 01 dealers) were targeted in 50-percent of the combined robbery and burglary categories. This was followed by 30-percent for Type 02 FFL-license holders, or pawn shops.
Refined further,75 percent of all robbery thefts involved handguns while almost 23 percent were long-guns, says the BATF.
Asked about 03 FFL license holders – those persons with the federal government’s Curio and Relic firearms collector’s permits - thefts and robberies are almost non-existent, Dabkowski says.
“They’re pretty rare, and I can think of only one such instance in my career,” Dabkowski says. “03 (Curio and Relic) license holders tend to be very discreet about their collections., which often contain valuable firearms.”
Dabkowski says that firearms thefts and robberies of FFL dealers at gun shows are unusual as well, though not to the same degree experienced by Curio and Relic license holders.
“And then it typically involves the theft of one or two firearms from off a display table,” Dabkowski said. “They’re not huge numbers by any means.”
A chief key in any firearms recovery effort is maintaining good firearms records, including for individuals. While not mandated by BATF rule-making authority, keeping a list of the serial numbers and descriptions of one’s personal firearms is paramount in any recovery, Dabkowski says too.
Even if a stolen firearm is used in a crime, the owner of the weapon can see that the firearm is returned once all of the legal wrangling involving the criminal is completed, Dabkowski says.
However, if a claim for the stolen firearm is made with an insurance company – whether that claim is undertaken by a FFL dealer or an individual – a recovered firearm than becomes that firm’s property. Which means that the firearm’s ultimate disposal is up to the insurer, Dabkowski says.
Dabkowski says the BATF has a publication available to assist firearms dealers in protecting their investments. The agency’s “Loss Prevention for Retailers” is found on the agency’s web site; www.atf.gov/docs. The agency also maintains a toll-free hotline for FFL-license-associated firearms thefts and robberies.
For individuals, the BATF likewise has an on-line publication designed to help prevent at-residence gun thefts and robberies. This PDF-format publication is www.atf.gov/file/103926/download. The agency’s “Personal Firearms Record” downloadable publication can be found through the agency’s portal at www.atf.gov/file/4831/download.