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Posted: 5/11/2003 7:20:19 PM EDT
Fools like this give gun owners a bad reputation.

Link Posted: 5/11/2003 7:28:37 PM EDT

Sniper rifles stolen from gun dealer

Danville dealer here for Crown Point gun show

Times Staff Writer

MERRILLVILLE -- Four sniper rifles and four semi-automatic assault rifles were stolen late Friday or early Saturday from a pickup truck parked at a hotel here, creating significant concern among authorities.

"We're very concerned about this," said Eric Ellis, resident agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Merrillville office. "The value of these firearms is very high. There is always concern when these types of firearms are unaccounted for. If there is a victim of this theft ..."

The weapons, which have a combined retail value of more than $20,000, are owned by Jeffrey B. Allen of Danville, who was in Northwest Indiana in preparation for the two-day Central Indiana Gun Show at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. Allen, who could not be reached for comment, owns a business called Sunset Firearms.

Merrillville police said the theft took place between 11 p.m. Friday and 6:20 a.m. Saturday while Allen's 2000 GMC pickup truck was parked outside the Red Roof Inn at 8290 Georgia St.

Police said in a press release that someone broke into the vehicle by damaging the door lock and breaking a window. The weapons -- four .50-caliber sniper rifles and four .223-caliber AR-15s -- were sitting on the rear seat of the truck, police said.

A military-type rain jacket and a briefcase also were taken from the truck, but the guns were not loaded and no ammunition was in the vehicle.

"These are specialty firearms and they would bring big money," Ellis said. "There have been a series of car break-ins in the motel section in the last couple of months. It's too early to say if Mr. Allen was a target or if this was a random theft."

Ellis said the guns require specialty ammunition and authorities are hoping to recover the weapons as quickly as possible. However, he also said the necessary ammunition could be purchased at many locations, including Wal-Mart and area gun shops.

He said ATF agents, who are investigating along with Merrillville police since the theft involved a federal license, questioned Allen on Saturday.

Allen apparently left the area Saturday and did not participate in the gun show.

Although many of the people who attended the gun show were not aware of the theft, the promoters were and they wondered why Allen did not bring the guns to the fairgrounds for safe keeping.

"It's very irresponsible," said Dan Hedger, a partner with the Cental Indiana Gun Show. "Everybody knows we have security here. Most of the dealers bring their stuff here and it's locked up."

Promotion assistants Tina White and Tony Hale echoed Hedger's comments.

"You just can't leave that kind of stuff in the car," Hale said. "He should have secured it better."

However, White also said Allen didn't have any kind of information or emblem on his truck and it would have been impossible for someone to know there were guns inside.

"It's really unfortunate," she said. "Maybe they were just looking to steal the truck, then they broke in and saw all these guns and were like 'bingo.' They just came across all these goodies."

Though they were familiar with Allen, Hedger and White said he didn't come to all of the shows and they don't know him well.

"I believe he does some work for different police departments and he may have some government contracts," Hedger said.

Individuals with information about the theft are asked to call Merrillville police at (219) 769-3722.
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