Gun thefts on rise in Augusta

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, August 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA-- Gun thefts are on the rise across Richmond County;
6 thefts already this year, compared to 3 burglaries for all of 2006.
Which means more high powered weapons are hitting the streets.

Two men are in jail charged in the latest theft, but one man is still on the run. It happened early Wednesday morning (August 1) at Hitchcock's Jewelry and Pawn Shop, off Peach Orchard Road near Bobby Jones.

The growing trend is something owner John Hitchcock has seen first hand. He's owned his pawn shop for 18 years and has never had guns stolen until this year, two thefts in just two months.

The latest burglary yielded amazingly clear surveillance video. In it, you see three men break through the door and storm the store stealing rifles, shotguns and a semiautomatic; 13 guns in all, off the racks and onto our streets.

"My guns were stole but we had pictures, really good pictures." notes Hitchcock. His new surveillance system was just $4,000 installing 6 cameras and other hidden cameras all over the store. "It paid off immediately. Immediately." says Hitchcock.

If you take a close look in slow motion and you'll see why. The thieves faces are clearly seen as they turn to run off with the loot. It's these images law enforcement is crediting for the arrest.

"If you got three to four deputies that can pick your picture out of a surveillance video your life of crime in not going to be long because you're going to be in jail." says Property Crimes Investigator Lt. Tony Walden.

The two men they have identified are Christopher Curtis and Cedrick Davenport; they are in jail. Both were arrested the day after the burglary. However, there is one man they can't positively identify. He's the one seen jumping over the counter in the video.

But Hitchcock has a message for him and anyone else who wants to come in and steal from his store. "Don't come in here you will be on camera. You will be on camera. Even if you're in the parking lot, you're on camera."

ATF and FBI agents assisted the Sheriff's Office in the investigation. The Gang Task force is also involved to determine if the crime was gang related. Investigators are now working to see if these men are responsible for other crimes in the area.

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