Lakeland gun shop burglary has Polk Sheriff fuming

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LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Security cameras recorded thieves in action at Rapture Guns and Knives Store on North US 98, north of Lakeland. The smash-and-grab burglary happened during the early morning hours of Monday.

After forcing open the front door, one suspect takes a hammer, then uses his feet to smash out the glass in a case. Then, it’s a free-for-all as they scoop guns into a satchel.

The suspects stuffed numerous firearms into large bags and then fled the scene at just before 1:35 a.m. in an unknown make or model car, heading south on US Hwy 98, deputies say.

Store owner, Ben Pollock said he beefed up security after a break-in several years ago. It wasn’t enough. “I don’t know how they plan to get rid of the guns, but it can’t be good,” he said.

That’s what worries Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “These guns all go to the streets, they all go to criminals. They all go to thugs. And those thugs rob and shoot and murder people,” he said.

The Sheriff said deputies visited Rapture Gun on December 13th, warning the owner to put his guns in a safe or vault, or at least make the store harder to get into.

Sheriff Judd says, “Alarm systems alone are not adequate deterrents, or adequate security, at gun stores. We’ve reached out to all of the gun store owners in the county and discussed the importance of having robust security systems in place. In fact, on December 13, 2016, our detectives went to the Rapture Guns and Knives store, and spoke with the owner about installing security features at his business. He told our detectives that safes are too expensive and they’ll just cut the cables if he installed those.”

“Gun store owners have a moral and an ethical obligation to protect their guns,” continued Sheriff Judd.

“We’re a small store. We’re a family-owned business. Safe that size would be a huge expense,” said Pollock in defense.

Sheriff Judd responded, saying:  “Well Ben, here’s your sign. They broke into your store last night and they took 40 guns,” he said. Making matters worse, Sheriff Judd said when the crooks broke in, there was a nine minute delay before the alarm company called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies got there in two minutes, but the thieves were long gone.

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