Juveniles arrested in gun shop burglary

Suspects have been arrested in connection with a New Whiteland gun shop burglary, and investigators across four local and federal agencies are working together to recover the dozens of guns that were stolen.

All the suspects involved in the Element Armament burglary are believed to be teenagers, New Whiteland Police Chief Joe Rynerson said.

They will likely face federal charges. No charges had been filed Tuesday afternoon, according to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

How many arrests were made and how many guns were recovered was unclear Tuesday afternoon.

Leaders of the New Whiteland Police Department, Southport Police Department and a spokeswoman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that arrests were made.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the agency officials say made the arrests, would not confirm the arrests, and directed all questions to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecutor’s office declined to confirm the arrests, as charges had not yet been filed, spokeswoman Anna Bowman said.

New Whiteland police were dispatched at 4:21 a.m. Saturday to the store at 400 Tracy Road on a report of a burglary. Surveillance videos at the federally licensed gun, ammunition and accessories dealership show five men breaking into the gun shop by kicking in the door and stealing 33 guns in about two minutes.

The store’s owner reported the thefts to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is required of federally licensed gun dealers. Because Element Armament is a federally licensed gun dealer, stealing from it would result in federal charges, said Suzanne Dabkowski, a spokeswoman with the bureau.

The agency, New Whiteland Police Department, Southport Police Department and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department are now working together to recover the guns so they will not be trafficked by criminals.

All the guns were entered into a national database of stolen weapons immediately following the burglary, Rynerson said. The database will allow police to run the serial numbers of guns through the system to determine if it has been stolen and from where.

“We want to get those before they get away from us here,” Dabkowski said.

One of the guns was recovered in Southport during a police chase the day after the gun shop was burglarized, said Tom Vaughn, Southport police chief.

According to officials, the suspects in the theft went on a crime spree over the weekend across the southside and New Whiteland.

New Whiteland and Southport police said suspects broke into a southside trading post seeking guns, though the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department would not verify that information.

The suspects then headed south, where they broke into Element Armament, stealing 20 handguns and 13 rifles.

On Sunday morning, an officer with the Southport Police Department tried to make a traffic stop near Walnut Street and Anniston Drive after one of the suspects did not stop at a stop sign, Vaughn said.

The motorist fled from officers and crashed in the 7700 block of Homestead Drive. The driver abandoned the car, which was stolen, and ran into a nearby apartment complex, Vaughn said.

Officers found one of the guns that was stolen from Element Armament and other evidence in the car that will be used to investigate the burglary further by all four agencies, Vaughn said.

“It’s kind of everyone working together to make sure nothing slips through the cracks,” he said.