ATF joins Sierra Vista gun robbery investigation

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The feds are now helping investigate who stole more than 60 fire arms from a Sierra Vista pawn shop.

With the New Year's burglary happening in a border community, authorities especially want to recover the guns before they fall into the wrong hands.

The Mountain Vista Trading Post was burglarized early Sunday.  Sixty-five guns and pistols were stolen, along with ammunition.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office isn't ruling out the possibility of border gangs being responsible.

"We do have a significant number of fire arms, we are located south close to the border, we do have a main corridor that comes through here for smugglers," said Carol Capas from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

For those reasons, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has joined the investigation to track the burglars and the weapons.

At this time, however, the sheriff's office does not believe this is a cross-border crime.

"We've been asked, 'Is this a cartel issue?  Is this an illegal immigrant issue?'  At this point we have no indication of that.  It just appears that it was a crime of opportunity," Capas said.

Some residents fear the stolen firearms will be sold hot in their own community and possibly used against local residents.  Stolen guns are always in demand because criminals can't be traced back to them.

"I guess there's a big market for weapons around here along the border at a discounted price," said Sierra Vista resident Kaylena Fox.

Other residents suspect the weapons are already in Mexico.

"Probably across the border, I would think, because of there to Naco you can go across the border not very far," said Tombstone resident Gerald Wilson.

Either way investigators tell us they are following some strong leads.

The serial numbers for each weapon have now been entered into a federal database.  Buyers can use that registry to see if they've purchased a stolen gun.