DENVER -- Close to 30 firearms, including handguns and rifles, have been stolen from pawn shops by armed thieves in the Denver metro area the past several months.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspects in three different cases, which investigators believe are connected.
"The guys just came around the corner, rushed in told them to put their hands up," said Rasheeda Hobbs, the manager of Fast Cash Pawn on East Iliff Avenue in Denver.
Hobbs said she was shocked to get the frantic call from her employees on December 21, just before 10 a.m.
"This store I would've thought more than likely would never get robbed," Hobbs said. "The police station is right up the street."
Employees told Hobbs two masked men forced them to empty the safe at gunpoint. The suspects ran off with nine handguns and $40,000 worth of cash and merchandise.
"It was scary," Hobbs said. "It was scary for everybody."
It's that boldness that has Edgewater Police Chief John Mackey on edge. Just two months prior, on October 4 at 2 p.m., two masked men and a masked woman flashed guns as they rushed into the pawn shop on Sheridan Boulevard.
"It's very concerning," Mackey said. "One - it was a busy time of day because that's our restaurant district right around the corner. They methodically robbed each one of the customers at gunpoint."
ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in charge Ken Croke said the suspects are aggressive.
"They come in, they're armed," Croke said. "They have their own firearms in their hands. They're looking for firearms. They're waving these - brandishing these - firearms. In some instances, they're putting them to the back of people's heads. They're jamming them into their ribs."
In the Edgewater robbery, the suspects got away with cash and valuables, plus four AR15 and AK47 style rifles.
"Those are high powered assault rifles," Mackey said. "That's why we got the ATF involved very quickly."
Croke said these guys are prepared, methodical, and ready for a fight.
"There's a lot of firearms out there," Croke said. "These guys are continually doing this. It's just a matter of time before somebody gets hurt."
Croke said they believe those two armed robberies are connected to the July 13 armed robbery of Jumping Jack Cash on Lincoln in Adams County.
In all, 27 firearms have been stolen in the past several months.
"At least one of these firearms has been recovered in violent crime," Croke said. "These firearms are being sold and utilized on the street."
Investigators describe the suspects as two black males. One is 6'0" and 250 pounds. The other is 5'9" and thin. There was also a female suspect dressed all in black involved in the Edgewater robbery.
The suspects have used a different vehicle in each case, some of which were stolen according to investigators.
If you have any information, call 1-800-ATF-GUNS.
In 2015, 133 firearms were reported stolen from licensed gun dealers in Colorado, including pawn shops. That's up from 56 in 2014.