MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Memphis Police Department are investigating after hundreds of guns were stolen over the weekend.
According to the agencies, two men driving a U-Haul vehicle pulled up to the UPS facility at 1803 Brooks Road in Memphis and took off with 400 guns.
Investigators are looking into exactly how many guns were taken, but the estimate of 400 stolen firearms makes it one of the largest single gun thefts the ATF has investigated, bureau spokesman Michael Knight said. ATF agents and the Memphis Police Department are reviewing manifests and bills to determine where the guns were shipped from and where they were going.
Memphis, like other large metropolitan areas, has a problem with violent crime, including gun-related offenses. The metro area, with more than 1.3 million people, saw an estimated 15,737 violent crimes in 2017, FBI statistics showed.
UPS said in a statement that it is working with law enforcement but does not comment on open investigations.
Such a high number of stolen guns could present a danger to the safety of the public and first responders in the west Tennessee city and elsewhere because they could be transported to other places within hours, Knight said.
“We are concerned that the firearms will end up on the streets not only potentially in the Memphis area, but also across the country,” Knight said. “The criminal element knows no geographical boundary.”
ATF is asking the public to send it social media posts, photos or any other information related to the theft.
Knight said investigating a theft from a shipping facility is more complicated than a gun shop, for example, because weapons at gun stores are isolated in inventory.
“It’s a very tedious process that we’re looking at to make sure that every firearm is accounted for, from the shipper as well as from the receiver,” Knight said.
Authorities spent Monday following up on leads, which is why they say they didn’t have time for an interview.
People in the area didn’t recognize the men and say they hadn’t heard anything.
Up to $5,000 is being offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest and conviction of those responsible.
If you know anything call the ATF at (800) ATF-GUNS or the Memphis Police Department at (901) 528-2274.