Five guns stashed away in locked garages were taken in a burglary last month, and officials are asking for help finding whoever is responsible.
Yellow Medicine County Dispatch said in a news release that two garages in an area north of St. Leo (that's in southwest Minnesota, the Canby-Marshall-Montevideo area) were broken into the night of Jan. 26.
Chief Deputy Wayne DeBlieck with the sheriff's office told GoMN the garages had been locked. The thief (or thieves) took two long guns and three pistols. Authorities are hoping those firearms end up at places like pawn shops, which might notice they're stolen and contact them. (DeBlieck said they generally don't publicize specific details about the guns, in hopes it leads to more tips.)
Also taken: Assorted garage items, like tools, and a couple trailers. Two ATVs were taken too, but they were both found within 10 miles of the garages. DeBlieck said they might have run out of gas.
The sheriff's office is now asking for the public's help finding the perpetrators, and are asking anyone with information to call them at 320-564-2130. You can also submit tips through CrimeStoppers either online or via phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
There is an award available for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Under Minnesota law theft of a gun is punishable with up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
Gun thefts and other crime
Gun thefts are common in the United States.
A survey, reported on by The Guardian, found anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 firearms are stolen in the country every year. That's of the estimated 256 million guns owned by Americans – about 40 million more than in 1994. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has data from 2005-10, and found an average of 232,400 firearms were stolen each year.
The Associated Press in 2015 reported stolen guns across the country were being used in violent crimes more and more.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a 2015 "trace" report for Minnesota – it's a look at the number of firearms recovered in that year, where they came from, and how they were used.
So for example, of the 2,780 guns recovered by ATF in Minnesota in 2015, about 53 percent came from in-state. But 130 could be traced back to Wisconsin as the source; 75 were from either North or South Dakota; and 39 came from Texas. Here's the map of the top 15: