2 south metro Denver gun stores robbed within 24 hours

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LITTLETON, Colo. -- Two major gun heists happened within 24 hours in Littleton. And now the federal investigators wonder if they’re connected.

The first smash-and-grab happened at Colorado Gun Broker at 8966 W. Bowles Ave. about 3: 45 a.m. Tuesday. The latest happened at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, nearly seven miles away at Triple J Armory at 311 E. County Line Road.

“I just drove up here and saw this,” said Fran Carpio, who had stopped by Triple J Armory to buy some ammunition.

But instead, he encountered the aftermath of a smash-and-grab where bold burglars made off with 20 to 30 guns.

Lisa Meimer, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said they don't know how the burglars broke in, but it's possible they crashed through with a vehicle.

“Besides a bank, what is the most protected thing? A gun store. For them to go driving through a window, that’s kind of brazen. It’s not like they jimmied open a lock. You’re making a spectacle of yourself,” she said.

It’s a spectacle that might have ended in Denver. Police suspect a white van that crashed into two parked cars might be tied to the crime.

“We are aware. We’re looking into it,” Meimer said.

She said ATF is also looking into a second smash-and-grab less than a day earlier at Colorado Gun Broker. It appears thieves pried open the door there.

“It’s definitely of concern anytime you have any number of firearms stolen, you know, they end up in the criminal hands. That’s where they go. They’re not used for hunting. They end up in crime scenes,” Meimer said.

Burglars are breaking into gun stores nationwide. In Houston, 10 masked thieves used a chain and a truck to rip the gates off of a gun shop.

Meimer said thieves in both burglaries stole mostly handguns, which are easier to hide and sell.

“We believe they have a plan for them, unload them as quickly as possible, get money, get drugs, whatever they can for them,” she said.

Customers hope police get these thieves in their crosshairs and off the streets. But doing the same for the guns could be another story.

Meimer wouldn’t say whether there is surveillance video of the burglary.

So far this year, thieves have stolen 89 guns from Colorado dealers. That doesn’t include the 20 or 30 from Triple J Armory.