In wake of gun theft epidemic, dealers examine security

Barracks 616
Barracks 616 in Cascade Township. (Sept. 25, 2017)

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — This fall, gun thieves have hit stores throughout West Michigan, dozens of which remain unaccounted for.

The stores where the guns are sold are legitimate and regulated, but since September more than 100 guns, including 76 this weekend, are now illegal firearms presumably in the hands of criminals.

“The thought that there could be 76 vehicles with guns in them that weren’t there before is just so concerning,” said Kent County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Joel Roon.

In September, 13 guns were stolen from the Cabela’s in Grandville with some of the same group of teens stealing 20 guns from Barracks 616 in Cascade Township.

“We thought we’d bought the right stuff and we were invincible and we weren’t,” said Gregg Glasco, manager at Barracks 616.

On Saturday, 89 guns were taken from the Family Farm and Home Store in Cedar Springs.

On Wednesday, 104 guns remain at large.

After the theft, the management at Barracks 616 decided changes had to be made.

“Our initial security system was tens of thousands of dollars and this upgrade plus the loss is gonna be another $50,000,” Glasco said. “It’s very important for us to maintain a secure store and play by the rules and make sure everyone gets a background check and deserves the firearm that they’re buying.”

The gate they will be getting is custom-made and state-of-the-art, the manager said.

Glasco said they wanted to get this gate before, but Cascade Township zoning didn’t allow. After the break-in, the store reapplied for approval and the township quickly approved.

“This gate will be where you can drive an armored car into it and you’re not gonna get through it,” Glasco said.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department and ATF are concerned with the increase in gun thefts here and nationwide.

The department is visiting every gun dealer to help them with security and giving recommendations, but there are no state or national mandates for gun store security.

“The ATF has a lot of recommendations in place and they’re very good pushing out information, but there’s not necessarily a penalty for not abiding by those best practices,” Roon said.

Sgt. Roon says the best thing is for stores to take their guns out of displays and put them in a secure gun vault.

“That’s not an easy thing for a business to do every single night and we certainly appreciate the effort,” Roon said. “We do believe that’s the safest way.”

He said the businesses seem to understand the gravity of the situation.

“We’ve been very pleased with the level of cooperation from these gun dealers. They all seem very invested in seeing this case resolved successfully,” Roon said.

Grand Rapids police recovered 13 of the guns stolen Saturday and arrested some people for receiving and concealing stolen firearms, but no one has been named as a suspect in the Cedar Springs break-in.

“Obviously the people in possession of the guns have been charged with receiving and concealing stolen property, any potential involvement is still under investigation at this time as to whether they had anything to do with the break in,” Roon said.