When the phone rang early Sunday morning in Coweta County, Georgia, it was the start of a very bad day for Rusty Morris. Morris, the owner of the AR Bunker in rural Newnan, had just had his shop burglarized.
Surveillance camera footage from the store showed a team of masked burglars crash a Honda Accord, later found out to be stolen, through the storefront. The thieves then grabbed as many rifles as they could and quickly left. The entire incident lasted less than 50 seconds.
The police, who had been alerted by the shop’s alarms, missed the robbers by about 20 seconds.
After doing an inventory, more than 30 rifles were missing of which the local police soon recovered seven in a wooden area near the abandoned battering ram Honda. Between the damage done to the storefront, the interior, and the missing firearms, the AR Bunker estimated they took a $75,000 hit.
Once the authorities left, all that was left for Morris and his crew to do was pick up the pieces and get back to work. They posted on their Facebook page, “We were broken into last night. The people didn’t get much but here we are. Since we are here getting stuff taken care of we might as well be open. Come on down if you need something.”
The robbery led to an outpouring of support from their community. The store’s website saw more than 2,900 visits in just a few hours. Hundreds came by the store to support the shop. Some offered to help, some just wanted to buy a gun to help the business recoup its losses.
While the insurance company will soon be coming by to adjust the claim, many of the rifles were more than just on display. Some were recently arrived rifles that had been on backorder for a year or more. Others had deposits on them and were on hold for those customers.
“Trying to get some of the guns back will be difficult,” Morris told Guns.com in reference to filling those particular orders.
The AR Bunker case has some of the same disturbing hallmarks as a string of gun store burglaries along the Mississippi Gulf Coast last week, about five hours from Newnan. In those instances, a masked late night vandal smashed a vehicle into the secured doors of two shops, and then proceeded to grab handguns.
The burglar was in and out of the shops in less than 20 seconds. The vehicular ram did not penetrate a third gun shop, made of stronger construction. Also like the Newnan case, some of the guns were later found abandoned. The ATF is offering a $5,000 reward for information in that particular group of attacks.
Larry G. Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel, spoke to Guns.com about how the NSSF helps with these cases.
“NSSF has for several years now matched any ATF reward offer for information pertaining to the theft of firearms from an FFL. We encourage FFLs to take steps to secure their facility and inventory. ATF has a good publication with excellent recommendations for FFLs on security.”
Further, “…an FFL should promptly report the theft to ATF and local law enforcement. They should also carry insurance and report the loss to their insurance carrier right away.”
According to the ATF’s website, more than 200,000 firearms have been reported lost/stolen since 1994. To help curb this, the agency has available a 40-page handbook on maximizing the security of a Federal Firearms Licensee holder’s inventory.
Licensees are required by federal law to report thefts within 48 hours of noting the firearm not in inventory.
These laws also make it a federal crime to steal a firearm from an FFL holder. Those found guilty can receive up to 10 years in the federal prison system for each offense. Stolen firearms recovered are generally returned to the rightful owners. In one case this month, the ATF recovered an NFA registered Heckler & Koch MP5 and suppressor that had been stolen from its lawful owner a decade ago. It will be returned to him upon the conclusion of the case.
As for the AR Bunker, Morris is uncertain if any of the 25 stolen guns will be found and returned, but they are now open for business. They advise that they will be having an upcoming, “You can’t keep a good man down/scratch and dent sale.”