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BRIGHTON, Colo. — Gun thieves targeted a Brighton gun store early Sunday morning, leaving several deadly weapons in the hands of criminals.

South Platte Tactical at 29 S. Fourth Avenue is the latest victim in a string of gun burglaries and an apparent growing crime trend in Colorado.

An unconfirmed report said the smash-and-grab burglars made off with more than 40 guns.

But the store’s owner, Jacob McIntosh, is still conducting a full audit of his weapon inventory and isn’t ready to reveal the exact number, only saying “several” were stolen.

He’s not the only store owner feeling like he’s got target on his back. Burglars have victimized several licensed dealers in the past year.

Thieves struck in the dark of night, smashing through a front window. Then they used a tire iron to smash through glass display cases.

“Mostly handguns, your run-of-the-mill concealed carry guns and collectible, older pistols,” McIntosh said.

While he won’t confirm the number of guns that were stolen, he’s not shy about his reaction.

“It’s very difficult to own a small business and maintain a small business — and even harder when every thug that sees a business thinks they can make a quick buck by stealing somebody else’s stuff,” he said.

McIntosh had a full security system in place, including heavy-plate glass, bars on windows, an alarm and a security system which includes surveillance video.

“Fact is, where there is a will there’s a way, where there’s money, it will happen eventually,” McIntosh said.

It has happened several times to licensed dealers this last year. Burglars made off with four weapons at Pony Express Firearms in Parker in October.

In June, they stole dozens of guns at Colorado Gun Broker and Triple J Armory in Littleton. Then, in March, took several weapons from Bass Pro Shop at Northfield Stapleton.

“I’m sure their intent is not to use them for a good purpose. If they are stealing them. So, yeah, it is concerning,” neighbor Dave Simon said.

He sells insurance across the street from the gun store. He said his clients are concerned enough about an apparent uptick in crime and they’ve increased their coverage for theft.

“I just don’t like to see how brazen criminals are being,” Simon said.

But the gun store’s owner said he’s confident cops will catch the crooks.

“Good thing is, people who typically steal stuff are too stupid to make a real living and that’s why they get caught,” McIntosh said.

Law enforcement said gun thieves typically will sell guns for hundreds of dollars apiece on the street or try to pawn them.