Investigators say increased violence, increased gun theft connected

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December 19, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The FBI has just released numbers that show violence and murder are on the rise across the country.

Here where you live, stealing guns is becoming more popular.

Investigators say the two may be connected.

Hundreds of the deadly weapons have disappeared from homes, cars, and businesses in the past few months.

That means more guns on the streets...and more chances for deadly violence.

A burglar broke through Ronald Benning's bedroom window and went straight for the gun.

"I was mad!" Ronald said. He's a victim of a growing trend: burglars who are only after weapons.

Investigators say hundreds of guns in the wrong hands make the streets a dangerous place.

Something another man we spoke with, who prefers to stay anonymous, knows all too well.

"You can't even walk down the street without them in your face," he said. "Robbing you, beating you down just for the hell of it."

The FBI says he's right.

The kind of violence the man was talking about is up almost four percent across the country.

Reports show criminals are getting more aggressive and stealing more often.

Richmond County has seen 1500 burglaries in the past six months. About a quarter of those were gun thefts. It's also seen about a hundred assaults and homicides. So what do the burglaries and homicides have in common? Most happen in south and east Augusta.

Investigators say that's no coincidence. People are probably stealing weapons to protect themselves from the growing dangers of the streets.

And there's a good chance the people taking them are dangerous themselves.

"The person stealing them obviously has bad intentions for that weapon, whether for personal use or to sell it to someone else in the streets," the man said. He says people have black market weapons.

"Of course they do. You'd better have one to protect yourself."

"They don't need no guns," said Ronald.

His fear is that the gun he once used for protection will be used to hurt someone in his community.

Investigators say the best way to protect your weapons is to lock them in a gun safe. It's a little more expensive, but it's a lot safer than a cabinet...and it could keep one more deadly weapon from getting into the wrong hands.

Academy Baker Avenue: 1
Albion Acres: 1
Barton Chapel: 4
Belair: 1
Bethleham: 2
Central Business District: 2
City of Hepzibah: 1
East Side: 28
Forest Hills: 25
Goshen: 5
Gracewood: 29
Harrisburg: 28
Highland Park: 21
Housing Authority: 51
Industrial: 32
Jamestown: 62
Kissingbower: 69
Lake Aumond: 33
Lakemont: 8
Laney Walker: 46
May Park: 6
McBean: 31
McDade: 7
Meadowbrook: 55
Montclair: 34
National Hills: 31
North Leg: 22
Old Savannah: 69
Old Town: 18
Pendleton King: 8
Pepperidge: 34
Pinetucky: 11
Richmond Factory: 65
Richmond Hill: 64
Sand Hills: 16
South Turpin Hill: 44
Southside: 63
Summerville: 20
Turpin Hill: 21
Uptown: 13
West Augusta: 37
West End: 20
Westside: 45
Wheeless Road: 87
Windsor Spring: 62

Academy Baker Avenue: 26
Albion Acres: 14
Barton Chapel: 49
Bath-Edie: 3
Belair: 43
Bethleham: 39
Central Business District: 59
City of Hepzibah: 26
East Side: 28
Forest Hills:25
Harrisburg: 3
Highland Park: 3
Housing Authority: 13
Industrial: 1
Jamestown: 2
Kissingbower: 8
Lake Aumond: 2
Laney Walker: 5
May Park: 1
Meadowbrook: 1
National Hills: 1
North Leg: 4
Old Savannah: 2
Old Town: 2
Pepperidge: 1
Pinetucky: 1
Richmond Factory: 1
Richmond Hill: 4
South Turpin Hill: 10
Southside: 1
Uptown: 3
West End: 7
Wheeless Road: 4
Windsor Spring: 2