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Area gun stores say thefts low despite trend
Jon Lipscomb, with The Foxhole Guns & Archery in Gainesville, reaches for a gun in one of the display cases where they are kept locked up in the store. - photo by Tom Reed

Thefts from gun stores are high in Georgia. The state has ranked among the top three states for thefts involving licensed firearms dealers between 2005 and 2009.

But local stores say the trend hasn't hit them so far.

"There are no problems here at the store," said Michael Weeks, owner of Georgia Gun Store on John Morrow Jr. Parkway.

"We have the pretty standard stuff for security, and we haven't had anything out of the ordinary."

Jon Lipscomb, owner of The Foxhole Guns & Archery on Broad Street in Gainesville, also reports no problems.

However, customers are dealing with an increase in
personal thefts.

"I have heard that gun theft is up, and we're getting a lot of insurance claims," he said.

"The No. 1 theft is out of people's cars. People leave their doors unlocked, and thieves know where to look to find pistols. We've had four or five reports in the past few months."

Lipscomb said he reminds customers to bring their guns inside at night and lock car doors, implementing security measures he has at the store.

"We wanted it to be one way in, one way out with the front door. It's also good to have fewer windows, and those are at the front of the store," he said.

"We have a solid garage door that rolls down at night and seals up the store pretty tight. We also have a good alarm system and keep the store well lit."

Lipscomb, who used to work at Shuler's Great Outdoors in Gainesville, said he knows how to keep his merchandise locked up and secure.

"If people can't see in, they don't want to go in and risk it," he said. "We also have a good relationship with the local police. They keep an eye out on us."

This week, investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led a seminar in Byron to teach gun store owners how to deter thieves.

"We want to partner with you," said Bob Wood, an industry operations investigator for the ATF. "You are the front lines."

ATF agents, who count thefts of licensed firearms dealers as one of the biggest sources of illegal guns, have launched an aggressive effort to crack down on gun store thefts with the seminars, letters and other outreach to gun store owners with tips on where to position their video cameras and how to lock their gun safes.

In Georgia, the number of guns stolen from licensed dealers fell to 343 in 2009 from 649 in 2006.

"We haven't had any problems, which may be attributed to good security and a good area, but we've only been here about six months," said Ken Adams of Buford Gun & Ammo.

"We do hear about things that are stolen from people's cars or homes. That's a frequent occurrence, and people come in here sometimes to replace what was stolen."

The Associated Press contributed to this report