Suspects sought in overnight Tampa gun shop break-in

By Fallon Silcox / Dalia Dangerfield, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating an overnight break-in at a gun shop.

According to deputies, the break-in happened at the Shooting Sports store at 7811 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. in Tampa and only took 60 seconds.

The owner of the shop, Fred Fleshe, said he woke up to the alarm of the store going off at 1:45 a.m.

"It's like, are you kidding me?," said Flesche. "Am I dreaming?"

When deputies arrived, they found a gaping hole in the side of a wall. Authorities believe the suspects used a sledge hammer to tear into a concrete wall on the side of the building.

Crews spent Thursday morning patching up the hole.

"Unbelievable," Flesche said. "I couldn't believe they made that big hole in the wall, destroyed the office, to get in."

When deputies arrived, they found a gaping hole in the side of a wall. Officials said whoever broke into the store possibly used power tools to cut into the wall. (Fallon Silcox, staff)

Surveillance video captured the four criminals in action.

According to officials, 45 handguns were stolen from the store. Officials said the stolen weapons were smaller guns that were easy to carry. No rifles or ammunition were taken, officials said.

"We're extremely concerned," said Hillsborough County Sheriff Major Chad Chronister. "We have 42 firearms on the street."

Shooting Sports houses a shooting range and also sells guns and ammunition.

Unfortunately, federal agents said this is nothing new.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms reported a 150 percent increase in burglaries at gun shops across the greater Tampa area.

In 2014, there were four reported burglaries at gun shops.

So far in 2015, there have been 10.

Investigators said the thieves typically sell the firearms outside Florida or even outside the country. The stolen firearms from Shooting Sports could be worth more than $40,000 on the street.

"They'll end up with someone that is trafficking narcotics or dealing drugs, someone who is a convicted felon," said ATF spokesman Kevin Richardson.

In the wrong hands, the guns could have deadly consequences.

It's a frightening thought for the owner of Shooting Sports.

"Letting a bad guy get a gun in this business is the biggest mortal sin possible," Flesche said.

Flesche said it's his number one priority to see that the four suspects are caught.

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspects. To be eligible for a cash reward and remain anonymous, call 1-800-873-TIPS, visit crimestopperstb.com or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile app.