JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there were no burglaries of federally licensed firearms dealers in the Southern district in 2019. So far that’s not the case this year, and authorities are cracking down.
The 84 Express in Jones County was the first of six burglaries of Federal Firearms Licensees that have taken place in the ATF’s southern district this year. They were hit around New Years, Owner Rebecca Knotts said. Authorities say that was the beginning of what appears to be a rash.
“They tied a rope to the frame of the car and tied it to the front door and pulled on it until it broke the locking system and they were in and out in like a minute and a half,” Knotts said.
Several of the burglaries in question have happened in less than a minute. ATF Resident Agent In Charge Jason Denham said some of the crimes have been connected, but not all of them. What they have in common is the perpetrator’s method of operation.
“Individuals, and you can put this on the record, that are trying to respond to what they view are counter measures, whether that’s video or law enforcement’s response, and are just targeting a new way of burglarizing these stores by trying to get in and get out as quick as they can,” said Denham.
The crew at 84 Express said the incident shook them, making them more aware of their surroundings and who is in them.
“I think it just makes you more mindful of who’s coming in the stores," said employee Michael Burchfield. "People are watching you that you’re not aware of and getting a game plan to try to do the evil.”
That evil in this case affected a small business, locally owned by a Jones County family. Denham says the job of his agents is not to just stop gun thieves, but also to protect the business owners.
“We’re going to reach in and try and prosecute these individuals for the maximum amount possible in the federal sovereign that we have, so that’s what I want to communicate," he said. "Whether it’s one gun or forty, we treat it the same and we’re coming for you.”
Meanwhile, there is a $10,000 reward through the ATF for anyone who can bring forward information to help solve the 84 Express robbery.