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Thieves steal rifles from Wal-Mart
PORT ARTHUR - by Lauren Huet
Port Arthur police say several people stole rifles from a Wal-Mart that's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in Port Arthur. A local gun store owner says gun stores are already a big target for burglars, and the price of guns has gone up.
Michael Smith owns Mike Smith Enterprises in Port Arthur. His family has sold guns for forty years.
"We've learned to deal with burglaries over the years, because we've had so many of them. It's just part of the business," said Smith.
But not since Smith changed locations six years ago and made security a priority.
"Absolutely, we spend a lot of money every year on security," said Smith. "It's one of our major expenses, and no matter how much you do it's never enough, you're still going to be a target. So, you have to be constantly aware of it all the time."
Smith says guns are already valuable, and the price tags are rising.
"The past few years guns have been in high demand and the prices on them have gone up tremendously," said Smith.
Guns are in demand, and customers and thieves want them.
"There's a huge black market for stolen firearms because they're so profitable for criminals," said Smith.
Port Arthur police say several thieves stole at least four rifles from the Wal- Mart off Memorial Boulevard shortly after midnight Wednesday. Sergeant Scott Gaspard says the thieves either distracted the Wal-Mart employees or waited until no-one was near the gun case.
"It looks like they used a screw driver that they picked up off the shelf in the tool department to pry open a case," said Gaspard.
A spokesperson for Wal-Mart says they're taking the theft very seriously. As an added precaution, they will be removing all firearms from the sales floor overnight at the Wal-Mart on Memorial Drive.
"Most people, unless they've got a felony conviction or are otherwise prohibited, it's really easy to get a gun," said Gaspard. "So, my guess is that it's not because they weren't able to get one, it was just the cheap and easy way to get one."
Police are using surveillance video from Wal-Mart to identify the thieves. Gaspard urges gun store owners to take precautions.
"One of the things we suggest is to have a safe in the back and at night store them in the safe. They're a lot more secure there, if they're in a glass display case or something like that, they're easier to get," said Gaspard.
"You just got to keep your stuff locked up and you have to watch it all the time," said Smith. "You can't turn your back to it ever."
Vigilance Smith says can help close the door to gun thieves.