Federal law enforcement authorities are investigating a series of recent gun store burglaries that have resulted in the theft of 60 firearms.
Three men broke into the Gander Mountain store in Woodbury last month and stole 30 handguns, said A.J. Fry, assistant special agent in charge at the St. Paul field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Fry says the store's security camera recorded the men wearing hooded jackets breaking into a glass display case. He estimates the guns' worth at about $15,000.
Fry said over the last few weeks, burglars have stolen firearms from two other licensed gun dealers in New Brighton and Fridley. He said burglars often sell the stolen guns to people who use them to commit crimes.
"Oftentimes when we do have thefts locally, they do show up in different parts of the city as being used as crime guns," Fry said. "That's the concern we have."
He said the ATF frequently warns licensed gun store owners to guard against break-ins.
"We put on seminars for the licensees to try to make them aware of what to observe," Fry said. "Certainly, we'd rather know about it in advance to try and head it off than try to track down all these guns after the fact."
Fry says investigators don't know if the break-ins are all connected. The ATF is offering a $5,000 reward for information in the Gander Mountain burglary.
For more about gun thefts in Minnesota, read this 2011 award-winning series by reporter Brandt Williams.