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It happens all the time. Someone loses a rifle, posts something about it online, and prays that it turns up. Well a man in Texas is rejoicing tonight at his good fortune after an eagle-eyed forum member spotted his rifle on a popular firearms classified website. And with a little help from the ATF and local LEOs there’s a happy ending. . .

It all started Wednesday when a member of the Texas Hunting Forum posted the following:

My cousin had his rifle stolen yesterday when his truck was broken into at the Academy in Round Rock. Please keep your eyes out if you happen to see it for sale here or elsewhere. It is a Tikka .25-06 left hand action in a Richards thumbhole stock made from Ziricote with Rosewood forearm tip and Rosewood cap on the pistol grip. I believe it is topped with a Burris scope. Please PM me if you see anything that might resemble it.

Five days later, one of the forum members was looking through a popular classified ad website in Texas and ran across a listing for a gun that was identical to the one listed as stolen. Left handed rifles with custom stocks aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, so he remembered the post about the stolen rifle and sent the guy a message:

Just sent Diver a pm. If anybody knows him personally, call him and let him know. There’s an ad on the Tx Gun Trader that sure looks like what you describe.

Sure enough, it was one and the same.

The “Internet detectives” on the forum quickly tracked down the man who posted the ad, even going so far as finding his phone number and mugshot from a previous arrest. After getting in touch with the ATF and the local law enforcement officers, a happy ending was had by all. Except the douchebag who stole the rifle.

Sorry for the delay in updating.
I spent the afternoon with ATF, Williamson county sherrifs and APD.
The DB is in jail and the rifle is in ATF’s hands at this point.
I can’t speak highly enough about all the LEO’s that helped get the rifle back and take a criminal off the streets.
I also can’t thank THF members enough for their efforts in helping me bring this guy to justice and return a priceless rifle back to my cousin.
I will start a thread in off topic in the morning and personally thank everyone that helped with this effort, in the thread as well as behind the scenes. THF members are awesome!
My cousin has also signed up on THF and will also be sharing his gratitude with all those that made this possible.
Thanks you guys so much, you are all first class folks that deserve a huge pat on the back.

As of the time of this writing, the ad was still live on Texas Gun Trader here.

Moral of the story? For those of us on the good side of the law, it never hurts to get a bill of sale for when you next buy a gun from a private party. Imagine walking into a gun store to sell a bangstick and being told it was stolen, then having no paperwork to back up your story. The moral: document everything.

[h/t Dan]

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  1. I’ll believe there was a happy ending when the ATF releases the rifle back to its owner. I will not be holding my breath.

  2. Yeah,let’s not dance for joy just yet.The bad guy being in jail is a great thing,but given the ATF’s reputation and their current leadership that beautiful rifle’s destined for a furnace.

  3. In the past several months, I have had customers purchase stolen guns via GunBroker (private party) and another online classified forum for which we did the transfer service. These customer had no idea the gun was stolen until they were contacted by the LEOs. This is becoming an annoying trend. Lock and secure your tools, please!

    • Wish it were that simple. Unfortunately safes are not equal to security. Unbolted down safes can be wheeled out of a home via a dolly, and even a bolted down safe can be opened with a grinding wheel or sawzall in a matter of minutes.

      The only true security any of us have is a closed mouth. The bad guys cannot steal what they do not know exists.

      • +1

        I am very much a “what they don’t know they cannot act upon” type.

        While I’m in Texas & therefore it is a given that the chances are that I have some type of gun – what, where, and how many is need-to-know info.

        • Do you really think Texas is any different than any other western state, well with the exception of California? Why do Texans always have all this bravado about how they have guns when they didn’t even have the right to carry until a few years ago? Oh, BTW, Texas really isn’t one of the 11 western states. Sorry I said that!

    • locking and securing things does work! keep your guns out of your vehicles unless youre in them. buy a good safe. its a pretty simple solution.

      keeping accountability of all of your firearm descriptions and serial numbers is critical too.

  4. I lucked out back in the early nineties. My appartment in beautiful Fayetteville, NC got broken into. I didn’t have a safe back then, just a gun cabinet that my dad made me to keep all of my firearms in one convienent place, thereby saving the burgalar(s) the trouble of looking all over my 400 sq ft of bachelor splendor to locate my guns.

    They didn’t take a beautiful Dan Wesson .41 MAG in stainless steel, or the WWII 1911, my FN 49 or my Garand. They took an M1903A3 (which back then was only worth about $80), a Remington 870, and an SKS (which I got for free when I bought a case of berdan primed 7.62×39 for sixty bucks at Jims Pawn and Gun Jobbery).

    The cops came. They fingerprinted everything, commented on the mess the burgalar(s) made (I didn’t tell them that most of the mess was just my bachelor housekeeping skills), and told me they’d call me if my guns turned up.

    Amazingly about six weeks later I got a call. Back then the Fayetteville PD had a Pawn Shop Squad, two guys who’s job was to go around and visit pawn shops looking for stolen firearms. Thankfully I had all of my serial numbers recorded and they found my guns, even brought them to the appartment rather than having me pick them up downtown.

    I learned three important lessons. First I made sure that I kept copies of my inventory at home and at work so I would have proof of ownership even if they stole my records. Second I learned to get a bill of sale, even for private purchases. Third, my next firearms purchase was the best safe I could afford (which wasn’t very good). Most burgalries are smash and grab, in and out in five minutes with what can be carried in one trip. Cash, jewelry, electronics, and yes, unsecured fire arms. (I do have a very good safe now though, just in case next time I’m robbed it’s by professionals instead of junkies.)

  5. It’s good to hear LEOs tracking down stolen goods – it warms the cockles of my heart. Seriously, though, we are running serial numbers, license plates, and taking fingerprints because we want to find the guy who stole your (or our stuff). Securing your firearms is certainly a good idea, but any thing that you can put your hands upon can be stolen from your car to your floor safe. Knowing your serial numbers, and taking photos of your equipment will certainly help the process.

    I have no illusion that my “vicious” Weimaraner or gun cabinets could stop a thief for long. If the bad guy brought a steak, he might very well have a little fuzzy grey buddy at the end of his trip.

  6. Home gun safes are a poor deterrent, except for children. The steel used on the top of the safes (not the door, it has hardened steel locking bolts) can be easily cut in about five minutes.

    Alarm systems are the best deterrents, and they are cheap! I pay ~$300 a year for my service. Less than a dollar a day. You tell the company that you want an instant alarm motion sensor “targeted” very specifically to the area leading to where the guns and other valuables are stored and they happily oblige. They can tune those sensors to a very specific area as I found out during my install.

    Plus the sign on the yard is priceless…

    • Though an alarm is a valuable part of home security, I don’t think a safe is a poor deterent, and is a good investment. (I think it was Nick who did a great analysis on here about six months ago helping determine how much safe you need.)

      Even with an alarm, odds are a cop is five or ten minutes away. Lets say I’m a burgalar and I have five minutes in your house. I’m going straight to the master bedroom looking for jewelry, cash, guns, and portable electronics. All I can stuff in my duffle bag in five minutes. If I have time left I’m going to stop in the garage and see what you have by way of tools. If I see guns in a cabinet or in the closet, I’m taking them, if I see a safe I’m not going to bother, I only have five minutes. It takes longer than five minutes to get into most quality safes.

      The other advantage of a safe is fire protection (and your house is more likely to catch fire than to be robbed, at least in my bedroom community). My safe protects my guns from 1,200 for 60 minutes. Having been a fireman I know that if my ADT fire alarm goes off it will take a minute to call 911. Then about a minute and a half for the dispatcher to figure out what district I’m in and press the right buttons. Then a minute and a half for the crew to get out of bed, put their gear on and get out of the station. I live about seven minutes from the nearest fire station. It’s going to be another four to five minutes when they get to my house to locate the fire, figure out where to attack it from, ventilate, and gain access. Another four to five minutes to extinguish the typical room and contents or two room and contents fire. A total of 21 minutes, if everything goes right, that my guns would be exposed to 1200 degrees if I didn’t have a safe.

      I look at my safe as just part of my over all security plans. I have an alarm. I have three dogs. I keep my mouth shut about my guns and anything else I may or may not own of value. I keep my yard well lit. I have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. As a last line of defense, I have a safe.

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