Investigators worry Houston-area firearms stores being targeted

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People go to firearms stores to buy guns for protection. Now it's the people selling the guns who are being warned to protect themselves (KTRK)

The ATF is warning Houston-area gun store and pawn shop owners about a rash of burglaries targeting them.

"They're happening during the day," said co-owner of Spectre Firearms Mona Gilliam.

Guns are money, easily sold on the black market for top dollar.

"Anything that has a bullet coming out of it can be sold immediately," said Steve Vargas of Amex Pawn.

The ATF's alert is directed at all federal firearms licensed places and clearly points out they are the newest target of thieves, citing a rash of gun burglaries and robberies in the last six months.

"When they're not targeting money, they're targeting guns," said Vargas.

Last week in Spring, two armed men rushed into a pawn shop and got away with 30 weapons plus cash.

"I hear about things like that and I immediately think about my position here in the shop and the possibility that it could happen," said Spectre Firearms manager, Chad Allen.

"What concerns me is if there's a customer in the store -- of someone getting hurt," said Gilliam.

Amex Pawn Shop has experienced a significant break-in.

"They came in through the roof, they had welders and they... made their way into the safe," described Vargas.

His store and others are arming themselves with safes, security cameras and their own protection.

"I would think that the prospect of armed opposition would be a deterrent to most people who would want to rob a gun store," said Allen. "It seems counter-intuitive to go into a place where people are going to be carrying guns. But, you just keep an eye on who's coming through the door."
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