Gun Thieves and their M.O.'s ???


November 25, 2003, 11:02 PM
This is a spin-off of another thread. I was going to post this there but decided that if there was interest, it might highjack that thread.

In thread, Beware Of Being Followed Home,, Kenneth Lew opens the subject of awareness of those who may be planning to acquire your firearms by following you (for example) from a range session.

In that thread, Gordon Fink makes a fine point: Strict gun-control laws encourage theft. Criminals can’t get guns legally, so they steal them from those who can. I wonder what the statistics are re how many guns are stolen in particular year(s), and under what (and how) the circumstances evolved.

Would there be an argument asset for us should the numbers show that gun control states have more thefts than non (or less) control states?

Would the numbers show any particular Modus Operandi, or other "casing da joint" activity like indicated above and other posts on that thread?

Could any of this information work to our benefit? How?

Just a few questions... what say you?


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November 25, 2003, 11:09 PM
No numbers Ironbarr - whatsoever. But I would be surprised if there is not an easy correlation between high gun control states and higher thefts.

On balance i would expect the average prospective thief ... for guns or any merchandise .. to choose from preference the ''softest'' target possible .. and that would include factors based on age and location ... but MOST IMO decision making would be based - on the risk/expectation of meeting immediate armed resistance .. that is meaning implicit CCW ... the people who have (or might have) a weapon on the person.

No better deterant.

Even a thief after guns most probably does NOT want to get shot ..... and opportunism too will play a great part ... which means awareness of such by gun owners.

November 26, 2003, 01:44 PM
As far as M.O. is concerned gunstores are an obvious target. Had one here in Maryland that was burglarized for at least the second time this year. Thieves broke door open and where in and out in about four minutes or less, and got away before the police arrived. I think they got about 15-20 handguns and about 10 semi-auto rifles.

Coming through roofs, or walls of ajoining businesses, seems popular method in looting gun stores. Also, driving vehicles through barred and secured windows or through external walls works.

I think a lot of home gun thefts are just pure accident. Owners leave firearms in places that easy to find and access.

November 26, 2003, 02:03 PM
I know a couple of people that have had guns stolen. Most were crimes of opportunity, snatch and grab. I think someone broke into their houses and found some guns, I don't think the guns were targeted specifcally.

ANother friend whose family is very into competitive shooting had a whole safe stolen. They kept a safe at their ranch with assorted hunting guns and a few of their competitive guns that had been relegated down to play things. Thieves somehow managed to get the safe out, concrete was busted where it was bolted down. Took the whole safe.
Other things were taken as well.

November 26, 2003, 02:21 PM
Strict gun-control laws encourage theft. Criminals can’t get guns legally, so they steal them from those who can.

The problem with this is criminals will always try to get guns "off the books" no matter what. That way the gun they use in a crime can't be traced back to them. The easiest way to do this is to steal it from someone else. So the choice is to make it hard for criminals to get guns or not. I prefer to make it hard and force them to do additional work to arm themselves.

Would there be an argument asset for us should the numbers show that gun control states have more thefts than non (or less) control states?

They don't. The only crime which shows significant increases in gun-friendly states compared to unfriendly states is property crime. Thieves will try to break into unoccupied and therefore undefended houses instead of robbing people on the streets who might shoot them. This is why having an NRA sticker on your car or home is not necessarily sending the message to criminals you want it to. What most people (and stupid criminals) see is "I have a gun, be careful." What smart criminals see is "rob here when nobody's home."

November 26, 2003, 02:24 PM
Those guys must've had a tow truck, fork lift, crane, or something... lot's of weight and cumbersome too.

Guess they had plenty of time, huh?

BTW, folks, I'm still thinking that we might make hay of the Strict gun-control laws encourage theft. concept.



Gordon Fink
November 26, 2003, 02:46 PM
The problem with this is criminals will always try to get guns “off the books” no matter what. That way the gun they use in a crime can’t be traced back to them.…

And this is an artifact of gun-registration laws.

I think Ironbarr is on to something. It would be nice to have the data—not that anyone would listen to us. :(

~G. Fink

Andrew Rothman
November 26, 2003, 03:14 PM
According to Frontline (would PBS lie about guns?)...

Ask a cop on the beat how criminals get guns and you're likely to hear this hard boiled response: "They steal them." But this street wisdom is wrong, according to one frustrated Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent who is tired of battling this popular misconception.


In fact, there are a number of sources that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands, with gun thefts at the bottom of the list. Wachtel says one of the most common ways criminals get guns is through straw purchase sales.


The next biggest source of illegal gun transactions where criminals get guns are sales made by legally licensed but corrupt at-home and commercial gun dealers.


The report goes on to state that "over-the-counter purchases are not the only means by which guns reach the illegal market from FFLs" and reveals that 23,775 guns have been reported lost, missing or stolen from FFLs since September 13, 1994, when a new law took effect requiring dealers to report gun thefts within 48 hours.


Another large source of guns used in crimes are unlicensed street dealers who either get their guns through illegal transactions with licensed dealers, straw purchases, or from gun thefts.

And these don't count in the "stolen" category?

On the other hand, the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing "Americans For Gun Safety" reports: (

Stolen firearms are one of the key conduits supplying guns to criminals on the black market. A 1997 Department of Justice survey of 33,731 state prison inmates found that at least 9.9% used a stolen firearm to commit the offense that landed them in prison.

"When a firearm is stolen from someone's home or car, it quickly enters the black market and is likely to turn up in a subsequent crime," Kessler said. "A stolen gun is like gold to a criminal because it can be quickly resold without fear of it being traced to them."

It sounds like more research with less bias must be found.

November 26, 2003, 03:37 PM
56% said they paid cash;Wonder how many stolen guns are bought (or rented from some source) with check, credit card, or "I'll pay you right after this heist", etc. 56%, huh? I'll bet BGs usually pay cash, wouldn't you agree? If so, then that 56% covers a bunch of sins.


Gordon Fink
November 26, 2003, 04:31 PM
If so many thousands of crime guns can be attributed to straw buyers and “legally licensed but corrupt” gun dealers, why aren’t all these criminal dealers in prison? The paper trails from these crime guns would lead right back to them. Far from the perfect crime, I would think.

~G. Fink

November 26, 2003, 05:30 PM
Yeah the problem is that while gun thefts may be the least for the big 3 ways, they're still a double digit percentage. Also keep in mind that depending what the proposed law of the week is, the frequency of each of those methods shifts. If its a FFL crackdown "everybody knows criminals get their guns through theft and strawman purchases." If its a strawman law its "FFLs and theft are how criminals get guns". :rolleyes:

While gun registration laws held give reasons for theft, the real issue is that a gun is evidence and that evidence can lead the cops to you. Even if there were no registration laws, they would still try to backtrack the gun somehow...

November 26, 2003, 05:44 PM
One of the ways that is (allegedly) commonly used is for a corrupt dealer to fail to record guns he accepts in trade on other guns. I know of one such dealer who's doing time at the moment. He apparently got away with this for years, and sold the traded guns off-paper and off-premises. He boasts that he made "hundreds" of such sales over a 12-year period before being busted for drug-related offences... and also said that he knew of other dealers in his area who were doing the same thing. He also claimed that it was too much hassle to have to record every such trade deal, and blamed the ATF for making the process so cumbersome.

November 26, 2003, 05:53 PM
Last I heard, and this was rather recently, there are only 600 ATF inspectors to monitor over 100,000 FFL license holders. I imagine the odds of getting inspected are rather remote unless you appear on the ATF radar screen.

Before the Clinton Administration made it tougher to get an FFL, there was something like over 250,000 FFL holders, IIRC.

November 26, 2003, 05:55 PM
I assume then .. that any and all FFL's are mandated to enter trade-ins into ''the book'' .... as a matter of course. Must be awful tempting for some to not bother, following what Preacherman just described!

Gordon Fink
November 26, 2003, 06:11 PM
And yet “corrupt dealers” have to know that such a practice will bite them eventually.

~G. Fink

November 27, 2003, 02:43 AM
While gun-control probably does increase gun theft i think that there will ALWAYS be (and always has been) a market for stolen firearms. Their size/value ratio is better than most anything else in ones home (excluding gold/jewlry) Plus, rather than fencing them at a deeply discounted rate they can simply sell them at an INFLATED rate to their fellow criminals. The fact is that guns are valuable and easy to sell and easy to steal. They will always be targets for theft.

November 27, 2003, 10:41 AM
Guns = Cash. If you have an NRA sticker visible, they can be fairly sure you've got guns in the house. And a safe is good, but if you can get it in the house, they can get it out. And usually it comes out much quicker, because they aren't worried about denting the walls. Three or four men with sledgehammers and come-a-longs will get even the heaviest safe out faster than you would imagine.

November 27, 2003, 10:52 AM
Guns = Cash. If you have an NRA sticker visible, they can be fairly sure you've got guns in the house.

You got it. This is why I stay away from windows or have shades drawn while handling firearms in my house, have no stickers or RKBA bumper stickers (as much as I'd like to), etc.. I've seriously considered buying some old guitar or trombone cases to modify as carrying cases for rifles etc.. And I live in a reasonably nice neighborhood. But I guess I'm paranoid. *sigh*

November 27, 2003, 02:37 PM
have no stickers or RKBA bumper stickers (as much as I'd like to), Have to agree with that Bryan ... sad tho it is to say. I used to have NRA stickers on old truck ... also in fact on rear box on previous bike ..... no more, since changing both.

I weighed up the pro's and con's and on balance feel that any support for RKBA etc must be ''lo-pro'' ... behind the scenes, much as I would like to flaunt my allegiances. It doesn't of course affect what I can do .... just means I cannot ''wear the labels with pride'' as I really want to do.

The advertizing however of one's interests and thus likelehood (probability) of guns ownership seems too much of a risk.

November 27, 2003, 04:19 PM
i don't mean to be a new source of nightmares here, but i have often wondered if the anti-gunners will ever adopt the methods of the greens and the anti-abortionists. it could already be taking place in a very small way, possibly.

imagine if the anti's tactic's changed to busting into gun shops to loot the gun's to be burned or tossed into a river. homes of gun owners could become targets also. possibly even the sabotage of guns and ammunition while still on the shelf. protesters throwing blood on gun owners outside of gun show/shops.

it could happen if the anti's could work up the ferver a little more, and as i said it may already be happening and not yet discovered. but it could be in our future. those tactics worked great on the fur industry. marginally on the lumber industry also. and basically these hard core anti's are about all the same people it seems.

don't mean to highjack the thread here but it sort goes along with the why of the thefts. just food for thought.

November 27, 2003, 06:05 PM
those tactics worked great on the fur industry

Somehow I suspect the response to this sort of thing would be a tad more ... ah ... spirited than they got out of the typical fur-stole wearing socialite.

November 28, 2003, 01:45 AM
Screw the low profile crap. There is a neighbor that has a scumbag kid, and his scumbag friends, hanging out on my street. (Now and then) There is no way to keep them from noticing I drag out an arsenal on the weekends.
I did mention to the dad in passing that I hava a large safe, bolted to concrete, a large dog, and I work odd hours so I never know when I'll be home. Dad seems to be a nice guy, not up to these times. They are asian, and I think he's not up to speed.
I am, however, sure that he will bring up my points, if he hasn't already, if the kid and his scumbag friends ever mention anything of me.
I cleaned my AR in my garage with the door open once, and all of the sudden they are no longer interested in blaring music from their vehicles at 11 PM.
Not my intention, I just didn't want the fumes and the landscapers were out back. Worked out well, though.

F Pacifism.

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