Weapons stolen from Tampa gun store and range

- A brazen group of criminals busted a hole in the side of a Tampa gun shop early Thursday morning before getting away with dozens of handguns.

Hillsborough County deputies said the thieves used some type of heavy tool to tear through the concrete wall of Shooting Sports on North Dale Mabry Highway at about 1:30 a.m., leaving behind a massive hole.

"It concerns me that nobody in the area along a highway -- even being as remote as it is at that time of the day -- that no one heard this noise or saw four individuals at least using some kind of object to make a three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half foot entry into a business," said Maj. Chad Chronister.

Surveillance cameras recorded the thieves once they were inside. It took roughly 60 seconds for them to shatter the glass in several displays, before taking off with 42 handguns.

The owner of Shootings Sports, Fred Flesche, said he got a call from his security company about the alarm that had been triggered. Flesche then watched the recorded surveillance video from home and was stunned by what he saw.

"It's the realization that -- holy mackerel, something is happening!" he told FOX 13 late in the afternoon.

When Flesche arrived, he couldn't believe the size of the hole in his business.

"[They] come in through the wall of a building? What's sacred? what part of a building is sacred?" he said. "Unbelievable. I couldn't believe that they made that big a hole in the wall, destroyed the office to get in."

Deputies are trying to identify the suspects and the vehicle they used.

Flesche hopes that happens fast.

"Number one priority in the world. Letting a bad guy get a gun in this business is the biggest mortal sin possible," he said.

This marks the third crime of this nature since mid-August, when three separate pawn shops were burglarized and a total of 23 guns were stolen.

Local and federal authorities are now trying to quickly track down the guns and are concerned about having an additional 42 stolen weapons on the streets.

"What we just have to really, really worry about: if that gun ends up killing somebody," said Kevin Richardson, Supervisory Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "These particular burglars, they're looking at the money aspect, but what they have to realize is what happens after that? Is that gun going to be used accidentally during a shooting and you have a four or five year old child that is killed; or you have a grandmother that is killed; or you have a police offier that is killed?"

ATF agents are looking into whether each of the recent crimes are linked. They're also trying to determine why there has been a rise in these types of crimes. There have been 10 in 2015 in the Tampa Bay area, up from four the during previous year.

Investigators said stolen guns can end up anywhere: from Florida, to another state, to another country.

"We don't know if they're going to stay here. We don't know if they're going to get moved. We just don't know at this time," Richardson said.

Anyone with information about the Shooting Sports burglary is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office or Crime Stoppers, which is offering a $3,000 reward.

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