LAKELAND (FOX 13) - A Polk County gun store is pledging to make changes after being called out by the Polk County sheriff.
Monday morning, several people broke in to the Rapture Gun Store and were caught on tape stealing dozens of guns.
"Gun store owners, you have an ethical and moral obligation to protect your guns when you're not there," said Sheriff Grady Judd.
The sheriff said deputies had warned them before.
"They went into the store without much resistance at all," said Judd. "These guns all go to the street. They all go to criminals. People like the man who shot an Orlando police officer is going to have those guns."
Judd said Monday that two things went wrong: One, the gun store's security company didn't tell deputies an alarm had been tripped until 1:42 a.m. -- nine minutes after the crooks got in; seven minutes after they left.
Two, the sheriff said the guns should have been secured in a safe overnight, for at least safer keeping, which is a warning deputies gave the store December 13.
"You can call me a prophet if you want. But this won't be the last burglary of a gun store," he said.
The owner of the store, Ben Pollock Jr, pledged several hours after Judd's news conference to have an armed guard there at all times. But he stopped short of agreeing to put in a safe, citing the cost.
"Security measures are only going to slow a criminal down," said Pollock. "If they really want to get the stuff, there's ways to get them."
We asked his father, Ben Pollock Sr., about Sheriff Judd's u front words on burglary.
"I can't comment on that, because I love (Judd)," said Pollock Sr. "I am going to comment that it was the criminal. We are not the criminal. It doesn't matter if we had the guns sitting out on the sidewalk."
Sheriff Judd says there is no law that says gun stores have to lock up their guns. But he says there should be, and that they're reviewing what level of government would be most effective.
"I prefer the free market enterprise take care of it. If they are not, then we have to do something more stringent."
Anyone with information about the suspects is being urged to call Heartland Crime Stoppers, which is offering a $3,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects: 1-800-226-TIPS.