5 suspects sought in Warwick gun shop burglary

5 suspects sought in Warwick gun shop burglary

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Warwick police continue to investigate a smash-and-grab at a Post Road business that resulted in the theft of more than two dozen firearms.

ORIGINAL NOTE: https://www.wpri.com/news/local-news/west-bay/5-suspects-sought-in-warwick-gun-shop-burglary/

Investigators now believe that five people from out of state were responsible for the crime early Thursday morning at Rhode Island Guns & Ammo. Warwick Police Chief Bradford Connor told 12 News it appeared that four people committed the burglary and a fifth acted as the getaway driver.

Police also learned the vehicle they used to crash through the front window was stolen.

“It looks like they attempted to steal several different motor vehicles,” Connor said Friday. “The suspects at that time exited the vehicle and within seconds, were able to smash through some of the glass casing and steal what we now know to be 25 handguns.”

Connor added that the suspects left the stolen vehicle outside the Gregg’s Restaurant down the road. He also said it’s possible the suspects came from Connecticut, where similar crimes have been reported in recent months.

“The crime that happened in Warwick is showing a pattern or trends from other cases throughout the country in fact, but it is similar to the case in Connecticut,” he said. “It is unknown at this time if it’s directly connected with the same suspects.”

The incident has led to a renewed push from Democratic state Rep. Charlene Lima to pass legislation that would impose stricter punishments for those who commit smash-and-grab thefts.

She introduced a bill in March that aims to do just that.

“Any type of smash-and-grab is horrifying in itself, but to learn that it was done at a gun store and weapons were stolen that could be used on our streets to hurt our citizens, we have to stop it,” Lima said.

Lima pointed out that her legislation would impose a mandatory two-year sentence for those who are convicted.

“Very simply, it would be mandatory two years’ jail, so if you commit one of these crimes, you’re going to jail,” Lima said.

Lima added that she’s meeting with House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi to try to get the bill passed.

As for police, their top priority is finding the stolen guns, according to Connor.

“First and foremost, you want to get those guns back,” the chief said. “You want to keep them off the street. They’ve all been entered into a national database, so if they’re used in a crime, we’ll know.”

“But, yeah … it’s scary,” he added.

Connor said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is now taking over this investigation since they believe the suspects came from out of state.

No arrests had been made as of Friday evening.