ATLANTA — Georgia’s gun-theft rate is on the rise.
In an exclusive interview, John Horn, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, told Channel 2’s Sophia Choi, “I think there’s maybe a little bit more boldness to it, a little more aggressiveness to the thefts.”
Horn shared the latest statistics that bear out the increase.
In 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives counted 338 guns stolen during 25 burglaries.
In 2015, that number jumped to 429 guns stolen during 33 burglaries. In 2016, Georgia hit a huge spike: 1,000 guns stolen during 50 burglaries.
“Anytime there’s a gun market, there’s going to be demand, and this seems to be an easy way for criminals to get their hands on weapons,” Horn said.
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The U.S. attorney said most of the weapons end up in the Northeast, where guns are more difficult to obtain.
He said they’ve also recovered them in other areas.
“We’re seeing cases where illegally trafficked firearms go to Trinidad and Tobago, to states all around the Southeast," Horn said.
One DeKalb County pawn shop has beefed up security, including an armed security guard on duty 24 hours a day, after burglaries where criminals targeted guns.
Omar Thompson, who manages a Stone Mountain pawn shop, said, “They’re not even looking for money anymore. They’re just looking for guns and jewelry, that’s it.”
Horn said his office is making progress prosecuting gun thieves, who could get up to 10 years in prison, depending on the amount of guns stolen and other factors. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working with the ATF to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals.
But Horn said the best prevention is more security by gun-store and gun-range owners.
Cox Media Group