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Four accused of stealing 156 guns from Central Florida gun shops

Four men are charged with stealing more than 150 guns from gun dealers in Central Florida. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
Published Mar. 29, 2018

Four men were arrested on charges that they broke into more than five gun dealers in the Orlando area and stole about 150 firearms, the Florida Attorney General's Office announced on Thursday.

Richard Jernigan, 30, Robert Tilmon, 31, Raymond Williams, 28, and Jermeil Williams, 28, face charges of racketeering, grand theft of a firearm, and grand theft.

Authorities are also searching for a fifth man, 28-year-old Kentric Collier.

In late 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating a rash of gun shop burglaries in Central Florida. Some of the break-ins "had similar distinguishing characteristics," a news release states, like the use of sledgehammers and pry bars.

TAMPA BAY TIMES SPECIAL REPORT: STOLEN GUNS

PART 1: At least 82,000 guns stolen since 2007 are still missing in Florida

PART 2: Weak security makes gun stores a 'rich environment' for thieves

Investigators discovered that the men sold many of the guns in the Orlando area within days of the break-ins. About 35 of the 156 stolen weapons have been recovered. Most of them were seized from people with criminal records.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times chronicled the growing trend of gun shop burglaries in Florida.

More than four times as many firearms were stolen during gun dealer burglaries in 2016 than in 2012, according to ATF data. During those years, licensed gun dealers reported 156 burglaries.

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