16 semi-automatic handguns stolen

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April 23, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Richmond County investigators are working with federal agents to find 16 stolen guns.

They were taken over the weekend at Walden's Outdoor World store off Highway 25 in south Augusta.

Today investigators told News 12 they are serious about getting these guns off of our streets.

Investigators say the criminals will use the guns to commit more crimes. That's why they say it's important to solve this kind of case fast.

A burglary over the weekend at Walden's Outdoor World left store owner Eddie Walden a little short on inventory. In all, 16 semi-automatic handguns were stolen, and now they are most likely on our streets.

"I have no reason not to believe they won't end up on the street here in Richmond County," Lt. Tony Walden with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office told News 12. "We have two scenarios, and both have proven to be true. They'll sell them to people who will take them out of state, and they'll keep some right here in our very own town."

That's frustrating for store owners like Eddie Walden, because his business works hard to put guns in the hands of people who are legally allowed to own them.

"The thieves are arming drug dealers and criminals, and it's not fair to the people that are allowed to own guns, because it puts a black eye on gun owners," Mr. Walden said.

Lt. Walden says that's why Richmond County investigators call in Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents when this many guns are stolen.

"It's a real big problem," he said. "We aggressively pursue these type cases, because getting weapons off the street is a high priority for the sheriff's office."

It's an aggressive pursuit to keep you and your family safe...because even one gun in the hands of the wrong person is dangerous for everyone.

"This just goes to show that bad people can get guns anyway, no matter what kind of laws there are or background checks there are. If you want a gun, you can get a gun illegally," Mr. Walden said.

Investigators found evidence at the shop that they say will help them solve this case.

Every gun store robbery last year in Richmond County has been solved, but not all the stolen weapons have been found.

There is some good news. One gun stolen about a year ago was found just last week.

ATF agents are working the case, which means federal charges will be added to the list of other state charges against the burglars.

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