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ATF links several St. Louis area gun store break-ins

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - The St. Louis area saw its sixth gun store break-in this month, early Thursday morning.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said investigators had connected three of the crimes to a group of suspects and two other crimes to another group of suspects.

It was not yet clear whether all five were the work of one group or two. It was too early to tell where the latest crime fit in.

It happened around 3:00 a.m. at Michael’s Arms & Accessories in Edwardsville.

The suspects did not enter the store.

Specially treated security glass kept them out. The first time they tried to break in with a landscaping brick, the object bounced off the glass, the store owner said. A second try shattered glass and left a hole in the door, but it wasn’t big enough to gain entry. An alarm scared them off.

There have been cases in St. Louis County (4), Jefferson County, and now Madison County since November 8.

In each case, there have been three suspects breaking the glass and storming the stores. The crimes have netted dozens of stolen guns, but none at Michael’s.

Three of the crimes, ones in Des Peres on November 8, and in Affton and Valley Park on November 10, appeared to be the work of the same group, an ATF spokesman confirmed.

The same vehicle, an Acura SUV, was spotted at all three crime scenes.

Break-ins at stores in Crestwood and High Ridge Monday appeared to be related to each other, he said. It was unclear whether the suspects in those two cases were the same as those in the other three or the latest case in Edwardsville.

“The ATF’s goal and our goal is to get these persons off the street,” said Edwardsville Police Lt. Charles Kohlberg. “If these cases are connected to the other ones, it’s very unnerving that they are going to the gun shops and stealing these weapons, likely to end up in the hands of the wrong people.”

There is a $10,000 reward in the cases. Call 800-ATF-GUNS if you have any information. You don’t have to give your name to get the reward.

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