The number of guns stolen from gun dealers in Colorado more than doubled in 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports.
The federal agency says some 273 firearms were stolen from Colorado dealers, compared to 121 firearms in 2015 and 56 firearms in 2014.
Colorado is not alone in the uptick in gun thefts. Across the country, a total of 7,858 firearms were stolen in 2016, which the ATF says is a record setting number.
“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,” said Debora Livingston, special agent in charge of the ATF Denver Field Division.
“ATF is working closely with all the affected police departments in the Denver Metro Area to identify and arrest suspects, recover guns and prevent future thefts,” Livingston continued. “We are also frequently communicating with gun dealers in the Metro Area to inform them of the rise in break-ins and help them better protect their store and inventory.”
ATF agents and local police arrested 15 suspects and seized 55 guns over the past year in the Denver Metro Area. Some of those arrests and seizures occurred at violent crime scenes.
“We believe now that many of last year’s Denver Metro Area burglaries are at least loosely connected, and are not copycat burglaries,” said Livingston.
Most of the thefts took place at night, and 63 percent of the stolen firearms were handguns.