BANGOR, Maine — The theft of 16 handguns from a Center Street pawn shop early Wednesday might be part of an effort to smuggle weapons to out-of-state criminal organizations and connected to a similar burglary last month, officials said.
Surveillance cameras recorded at about 3 a.m. what appeared to be a lone man shattering a pane of glass adjacent to the front door at JG Pawn at 99 Center St. With the store’s alarm system sounding, the burglar went straight to a display case containing 17 handguns, shattered the top glass after failing to get through the case lock, threw 16 of the weapons in some kind of duffel bag and fled, according to Bangor police Sgt. Tim Cotton.
Police are investigating whether the burglary is linked to a break-in on Sept. 30 in which five of six handguns were stolen, Cotton said. The display case targeted then was the same as the one smashed on Wednesday, said Josh Gallant, the 34-year-old owner of the store.
The burglars in both thefts bypassed a line of rifles locked to the wall behind the display and many other valuables.
Police detectives said “they think the guns are ending up out of state, going to the cities — New York, Boston, places like that,” Gallant said Wednesday.
Cotton said he could not confirm whether police were investigating that angle.
“It’s very aggravating,” Gallant said of the robberies. “I am a business owner trying to make a living and I have to deal with this.”
The weapons were worth at least $4,000, while the broken glass will take about $525 to replace, Gallant said.
The burglaries were the only break-ins at Gallant’s store since he became its owner 4½ years ago, he said.
Detectives and evidence technicians swept the store, got the surveillance video to review and canvassed the neighborhood for witnesses. Police got to the store within six minutes of the alarm, Gallant said.
“We don’t know if they [the two burglaries] are tied together right now but we are doing interviews and following up on leads and we hope to put this one to rest as soon as possible,” Cotton said. “We are always concerned when guns are falling into the wrong hands.”
The stolen pistols included Colts, Smith and Wessons and Taurus .380, 9-millimeter, 22- and 45-calibers.
“We’ll work on it until it’s solved,” Cotton said.