100 guns taken by 'faceless' robbers
Gunmen covered head-to-toe threatened a gun shop clerk, then took 'top-shelf' weapons
BY MARK BOWES
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
A brazen early-morning robbery at a Chesterfield County gun store has local, state and federal authorities on the lookout for more than 100 guns and the four masked men who took them.
The lone employee at the center of yesterday's 8:15 a.m. holdup says he feels lucky to be alive. The leader of the four "faceless" robbers repeatedly barked, "Don't move or I'll shoot you!"
The clerk, who didn't want to be identified, said he froze until ordered to lie face down on the floor of Bob Moates Gun Shop at 10418 Hull Street Road.
He hugged the ground until the men made off with dozens of "top shelf" handguns and four AR-15 assault-style rifles in less than four minutes.
The loss was placed at between $25,000 and $30,000.
"In my opinion, they really knew what they were doing," said the clerk, 56, who has worked at the store eight years. "They took the most expensive handguns. They went right to the cream of the crop."
The leader, who hovered over the clerk as the others looted the store, could be heard saying, "Yes -- no -- leave 'em take 'em" to the men grabbing the guns. They smashed three or four glass display cases.
"The whole time he stayed on top of me," the clerk said.
The robbery took a "minimum of two minutes and not more than four," he said. "They were brisk."
Police and store owners yesterday inventoried the stolen items.
The makes, models and serial numbers of the guns will be entered into the National Crime Information Center, a computerized index of criminal-justice information.
The database includes criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen prop- erties and missing persons, and is available to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies 24 hours a day.
Yesterday's robbery appears to be unique, at least in the Virginia-Maryland-North Carolina region, an ATF official said.
"When we got the call this morning -- I mean talk about a bold robbery, wow!" said John Malone, special agent in charge (SAC) of the ATF's Washington field office.
There have been recent cases in which vehicles have been driven through the front doors or plate glass windows of gun shops, or intruders have punched through the roofs or back doors of stores after hours, Malone said. But the Chesterfield robbery is the first of its type that Malone has encountered recently.
"I've been the SAC in Washington for the last year, and we have the city of Washington and whole state of Virginia," he said. "And there hasn't been anything like [this] in the last year, I guarantee. This was a bold, daytime robbery."
Nothing like it has occurred recently in Maryland or North Carolina, either, Malone said.
"The likelihood of [the guns] going somewhere is probably pretty good," Malone said. "Obviously Richmond is a hotbed for a lot of weapon traffic."
"We're hoping they're hidden somewhere and we can investigate and uncover them. But it's a little hard to say at this point."
Police have little in the way of descriptions of the four robbers. All were apparently covered head-to-toe. A video security system had yet to be activated.
The employee said the lead robber, the first one in the store, was "totally covered."
"There was no skin showing on his hands, ankles, wrists," he said. "He had a mask on, a shield or scarf that contoured his head perfectly -- no eye holes, no breathing holes for the mouth or nose."
The scarf or covering was apparently a knit material, "so he could see through it with enough light," the clerk said.
The man appeared to be wearing something similar to a turkey hunter's mask, although it appeared to be facing backwards, Malone said. The covering was underneath a hooded garment with a "zipper all the way from the waist up to his neck, with the drawstring pulled," the clerk said.
The robber also wore leather or vinyl gloves.
The clerk said he knew something was amiss when a man walked into the store about 15 minutes after it opened at 8 a.m. The stranger looked peculiar. The employee was occupied on the phone, "so I couldn't quite figure out" what was wrong.
"Then I realized the guy had no face."
The gunman immediately barked, "Don't move or I'll shoot you. Don't you move!"
When the clerk tried to hang up the phone, the gunman said, "I told you not to move." The clerk froze behind the counter.
The gunman then walked up to the employee, still pointing his gun, as three other men slipped inside. "I kept my eyes focused on [the leader]. I kept focused on the gun," the clerk said.
Once the other men were inside, the leader ordered the clerk to the floor. "I didn't move quick enough, and he said, 'Get on the floor! I'm not going to tell you again.'"
The clerk lay down with his hands behind his head. "I didn't realize he was telling me to put my face on the floor," the clerk said. "I didn't hear him the first time. I was trying not to do anything wrong."
As he lay motionless, the leader asked if anyone else was inside the store. The clerk said no, but the gunman didn't initially believe him. "He asked me three times, and I said, 'No, I am the only one.' And he said, 'Okay, you better be.'"
After the robbers finished their work they apparently brought bags to carry out the guns -- the gunman told the clerk that he was going to stay behind for a few minutes and not to move.
"I realized that was his way of giving him time to get out the door, to make their getaway," the clerk said.
Police said the men were seen driving away on Hull Street Road, possibly in a gold Nissan Sentra.
The clerk said he tried to make it perfectly clear to the gunman that he would cooperate fully.
"I said none of this is worth anybody's life," the clerk said. "And the [gunman] just said, 'Shut up!'
"That bothered me when he didn't respond to that."
Anyone with information about the robbery can call Chesterfield police at 748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 748-0660. Contact Mark Bowes at (804) 649-6450 or firstname.lastname@example.org
4 ar-15's and 96 'top-shelf' handguns for $30k or less?
I need to shop there......
Saturday night specials! WHoda known!
Great, here come the gun shop bans!!
Sucks that happened at least the clerk wasn't hurt.
No you don't. While I hate to poo poo any gun store. That one blows... I stopped even dropping by to browse about 2 years ago.
Picture a shop that has had neither an upgrade nor maintenence since 1950 (nor the motivation to do it). Picture a staff that is even worse than the sterotype. Picture a $299 Chinese 75 round drum, and a $899 "Rare Sniper" Egyptian FN 49. Picture customers that were denied entry to the last NASCAR race because they just didn't quite measure up to the standard. Even with this said, they do serve many hunters and fishermen well, and have many types of live bait.
The one BIG plus of Bobs is that they have real black powder. The shop has been around for so long, that they were grandfathered and are exempt from "explosive storage bunker" regulations.
With all this being said, it sucks that they got hit. I never thought I'd say this, but I hope the ATF has a good time [wink]running down these 4 that did this.
I guess the robbers did not want to wait on the ice creme truck.
At least they called the AR15 'assault-style'
Assault style is just cosmedic things: flash suppressors, threadded barrels.
I'm a firm believer that all thiefs should be executed... you steal from someone and the price is over $100 you should die.
I realy, REALY hate thiefs.
Someone works their but off, save up for an expensive item and some asshole comes along and steals it because it looks pretty or that they like it.
In some places if your cought stealing they cut off your hand. Some places they would hang thiefs.
In the Wild West if you steal someones horse you were to be executed because stealing a horse is considered murder.
I stopped going in there a while back too. At one time he did have a few broomhandles and a few lugers. In my opinion it was asking to be hit anyway. They carried a lot of Civil War stuff.
It is sad anyway when someone gets ripped off. I am glad the poor smuck behind the counter did not get shot.
the biggest problem i see is there was ONE employee and i assume he was not armed? What sort of gun shop has their staff NOT wearing a firearm? Piss poor policies IMO.
There was generally always 1 person there. If he was armed, it probably didn't have made much difference as the perp probably got the drop on him.
I doubt the shop will survive this. Bob is semi retired, and already closed for good once. I'm not sure why he re-opened other than the black powder thing. It's not a cash flow type of business. If he has to upgrade security and/or have more on staff, he won't do it.
One clerk? Four robbers? Early a.m. and no other witnesses? Totally covered with no exposed skin and a stopwatch? Sounds like something out of Beverly Hills Cop III (the one with Bridgitte Neilsen).
Either these guys were very, very good, or the clerk is an insider to the job and most of the story is window dressing.
“The clerk said he knew something was amiss when a man walked into the store about 15 minutes after it opened at 8 a.m. The stranger looked peculiar. The employee was occupied on the phone, "so I couldn't quite figure out" what was wrong.
"Then I realized the guy had no face."”
Brilliant!!! Ya might wanna take a closer look at people that come into your gun store @ 0800, wearing all black and a face mask….
"Police said the men were seen driving away on Hull Street Road, possibly in a gold Nissan Sentra"
4 guys and/or 100 guns in a Sentra??? I dounbt it would fit.
and who the fvck uses a sentra as a getaway car????
...sounds like an X-File.
As other avenues of gun procurement are closed, this is the one that will open up. And if gun stores disappear tomorrow, it will be as it is in other countries, raids on police departments and military armories. Criminals will obtain guns. The only thing gun control laws will do is stop the good citizens from being armed.
If you guys only knew the staff. A phrase with "wet paper bag" and "instructions" comes to mind.
What you're looking at is woefully inadequate physical and electronic security, plus a well cased job. Had Bobs been in the city, this would have happened decades ago.
Sounds like the store I worked at in Chandler, AZ a few months back. Owner was a real ass. Hated security and I worked alone every day. The owner would open for an hour or so in the mornings and would bail right after I got there. I opened and closed and was alone Sat and Sundays. I was armed, but he wanted it concealed. He would rather me not be armed. He set revolvers around stategic places if you got robbed. Right. He didn't want the customers to bring guns in, but if they did, he wanted them unloaded. My regular customers that I knew, I asked them to please carry and please have them loaded for my safety.
I had a few times where 5 or 6 "bangers" would come in and check things out. Some of my regulars would hang and cover my back for me. I had lots of PD and Deputies start shopping there after I started. I really tried to turn the place around. It was impossible. I gave up and left. I really enjoyed working at the shop. I hated the owner.
Sadly, we will see this happen more often. Once they get away with it, they wil continue.