The thieves knew exactly what they were shooting for.
A rifle rack at Smitty’s Guns & Ammo is bare today along with a single display case after burglars ripped the barred door off the building early Wednesday in a smash-and-grab that lasted just minutes.
The alarm was set off at 4:15 a.m. on the dot, according to Marion “Smitty” Smith. He was soon racing out the door and headed for the shop at 2701 S. Henderson Blvd. Kilgore Police Officers called while the gun store owner was en route, advising him to stay back as they secured the site.
Maybe 10, at most 15 minutes had passed by then – the thieves were already gone with armloads of guns. Around the corner, the iron-barred door had been abandoned in the middle of the road.
The crooks headed for the sporting rifles, co-owner Jena Smith said, emptying the rack.
“None of the hunting rifles or shotguns were taken,” she added. “This was specific: whoever did this knew exactly what they were taking and where they were going when they got it. It’s like an arrow was drawn from the front door to that area.”
The thieves added an adjacent display case of handguns to the take, netting probably several dozen weapons, Jena Smith noted.
“There were 26 rifles and four pistols that we know of,” she said, at-work on a full inventory for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. The burglars left the door at the intersection of Leach and Broadway around the corner from the shop: “They just hooked onto the bars and ripped the whole thing off. The bars didn’t rip off. They found it intact.”
Smitty said he’s grateful for KPD’s quick response. He’s been in the business almost 30 years, and this is the first time he’s been robbed. Smitty’s Guns & Ammo has been on South Henderson Boulevard four years.
With KPD already involved, the store owners soon notified Rusk County Sheriff’s Department and ATF, preparing a full list of stolen guns for the various agencies. They’ll also be sending the inventory to pawn shops and other gun stores, “just so they’ll be on alert,” Smitty said, whether for the guns or the thieves.
“You get to thinking about it: any business that has a front door is vulnerable.”
The incident has him thinking about the penalties for theft – they’re not severe enough, Smitty said Wednesday morning: “You work hard and you try to be an upstanding citizen and you can’t do nothing but for dang criminals.”
No surveillance footage is available from the incident, KPD Assistant Chief Roman Roberson said.
"Those smash-and-grab-type crimes,” he said, “they’re in and out in minutes. You’ve got a very short time-window to get there and when we arrived they were gone.
"Right now, of course, we’re asking for any information anybody can provide us on the crime itself."
Leads can be called into KPD at 903-983-1559 or Rusk County Crimestoppers at 903-655-TIPS.