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ATF acts on stolen handguns

June 23, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for stealing handguns last week from Shoemaker's Sporting Goods.

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"It certainly is heading to the streets ... That's a significant amount of firepower," ATF Resident Agent in Charge John R. Seiler of Harrisburg, Pa., said Wednesday.

There's no question the guns will be illegally sold, he said.

According to the ATF, about 30 handguns of various makes and models were stolen from the store at 763 S. Second St. in a burglary that was reported June 17 at 4:30 a.m.

Jamie Heckman, the store's gunshop manager, said a burglar alarm was activated when entry to the store was gained through a basement window.

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Seiler said investigators do not know whether the burglars were from the area, but he hopes the reward will convince someone to talk.

"The word on the street filters down pretty quickly," he said. "Someone will know about it."

"In the past two years there's been a significant increase in burglaries, thefts and robberies from licensees" in the 37 counties in central Pennsylvania that his office handles, Seiler said.

Stealing from a licensed firearm dealer is a federal crime. Conviction carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.

Shoemaker's was burglarized during a blizzard about four years ago. Those responsible were from the area and Chambersburg Borough Police quickly tracked them down.

Anyone with information about the June 17 burglary may call the Philadelphia Field Division of the ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS.

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