The Tampa Bay Times reported that a burglary at Sunshine State Armory in Zephyrhills, Florida at around 2:15 a.m. on Sunday morning resulted in the theft of numerous guns. The BATF is assisting with the investigation, which may or may not be tied to several other gun thefts in that area of Florida. The BATF has issued a reward of $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.
Police released the surveillance video of the burglary. The driver of a blue Toyota Tundra rammed through the front doors of the gun store, then three men hopped out and began smashing display cases, grabbing guns as they went. One man made off with several long guns, while the other two snagged handguns and stuffed them into bags. They were in and out in just under 30 seconds.
Police responded to the alarm at the business, but the perpetrators were gone by then. Officers later found the truck in a wooded area along a railroad track at 6th and Airport Road. It had been set on fire and left burning. It was such a ferocious fire that parts of the truck were melted, according to local media.
Similar “smash and grab” incidents in Lakeland, Tampa, and Inverness are also under investigation. Police have not yet determined whether there is a connection.
According to WFLA, the parking lot of the Sunshine State Armory is small, so getting up the speed to ram the doors had to have been difficult. Since the burglary, the doors have been covered with plywood, and shards of glass remain.
Police remind store owners that having unsecured glass doors is a bad idea, particularly for a gun store. The response time of police to any alarm may not be quick enough to nab the suspects, as these incidents reveal. The police would prefer the business owners make it tougher for burglars to get in.
Who are the perps? What are they doing with the guns – selling them or something else? Those questions have local residents worried, and police concerned about a public safety hazard.