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Feds offer $5,000 reward to catch thieves who hit area gun stores

Posted at 7:28 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 19:28:20-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Investigators think a series of recent Richmond-area gun store break-ins are related. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Chesterfield County Police Department, the Henrico County Police Division and the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office are investigating three break-ins that all occurred on Monday, March 21.

The first crime happened at Hopkins Gun and Tackle, located at 8151 Mechanicsville Turnpike, where numerous handguns were stolen.

The second break-in happened at Southern Police Equipment, located at 7609 Midlothian Turnpike, in North Chesterfield County. It was reported three suspects appeared to be trying to break into the building. When police arrived they found that a door had been damaged and the building had been entered, but nothing was taken.

"We could not see any faces at all. This time they had on hoods, jackets,” said Karen Ballengee,  who owns Southern Police Equipment.

Ballengee said this is the second time the store has been hit, but she said the suspects did not get anywhere near the guns. The three men used hammers to smash display cases, but since there were no guns were in the cases, the thieves snatched gun accessories.

"Everybody that I know that's in the business, they want these people caught. And if they prosecute them -- really prosecute them... then maybe they'll stop,” Ballengee said.

Surveillance captured the third theft where three men targeted a Cross Tactical Supply in Eastern Henrico.

"They hit a handgun area, couple of display cases. And it did not look sophisticated. We found gun tags on the floor where we know they ran out," said Vance Hopkins, who owns Hopkins Gun and Tackle.

He said the thieves shattered the front doors and made off with thousands of dollars worth of handguns.

"If they had something to carry, they could've gotten a whole lot more,” he said.

Hopkins said he worries what will happen with the guns potentially on the street.

"We obviously don't want guns on the street in the hands of people they don't belong,” he said.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects involved in the Hopkins Gun and Tackle shop in Mechanicsville.

If you have any information to help police, the ATF has a confidential tip line at 1-888-283-8477 or you can contact the Hanover County Sheriff’s office at 804-365-6140.