Police investigate gun store burglary

GREENFIELD — As police investigate the overnight burglary of a gun store on the county’s east side, they are warning residents of the potential dangers gun thefts can impose on the community.

A dozen guns were stolen from J&M Sporting Goods in Greenfield on Thursday morning — the second break-in of a local gun store in the last week, police said. Thieves broke through the glass front door of the business, 3527 U.S. 40 West, Greenfield, around 3 a.m., tripping security alarms and alerting police.

When officers arrived minutes later, they found shattered glass scattered in the store but no sign of the intruders; an assortment of 12 rifles and handguns were taken, said Hancock County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche.

Investigators were working Thursday afternoon to sift through security camera footage from businesses in the area to learn about the burglars and hopefully generate a description to distribute to the public, Rasche said.

Police were also trying to determine if the burglary at J&M Sporting Goods is connected to other gun store break-ins in the area, including two others in Hancock County in recent weeks.

A group of four men broke through a glass front door at Highsmith Guns, 123 N. State St., Greenfield, around 5 a.m. Aug. 19. Surveillance video captured inside the store shows four men entering, but they left before anything was taken, said Greenfield Police Department Lt. Randy Ratliff.

In May, the Fortville Police Department was called to a break-in at M&J Firearms, 24 S. Main St., Fortville, after four men shattered a window at the front of the store and made off with various shooting equipment but no guns.

Both cases remain under investigation.

Police departments in Indianapolis, Anderson and several other Central Indiana communities have also seen burglars targeting gun stores more frequently, Ratliff said — including some cases when thieves drove right into the side of a business in order to gain entry.

That’s concerning for police because the people carrying out these acts seem to stop at no lengths to get their hands on firearms, officers said.

“If they are stealing guns, they are probably carrying them and willing to use them,” Ratliff said.

The sheriff’s department is working closely with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal agency that tracks the illegal use and trafficking of firearms.

The serial numbers on each gun taken from the store Thursday will be put into a national database used to track stolen firearms, Rasche said. If the guns are found or confiscated by police anywhere in the country, local investigators will know, he said.

But the threat of dozens of firearms in the hands of criminals is unsettling, Rasche said.

“These guns are probably worth a few hundred dollars each … but what’s more important is the danger they put on our streets,” he said.

Call in tips

Guns gone missing: Police have investigated break-ins at three gun stores across the county in recent months; in the most recent case, 12 firearms were stolen.

Anyone with information about the burglary at J&M Sporting Goods, which occurred early Thursday, is asked to call the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department’s investigations unit at 317-477-1199.

Break-ins have also occurred recently at Highsmith Guns in Greenfield and M&J Firearms in Fortville. Tips on those cases can be called into the Greenfield Police Department at 317-477-4410 and the Fortville Police Department at 317-485-4044.


Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.