SWANSEA, Ill. - New Illinois laws are putting pressure on gun stores to keep weapons from falling into the wrong hands. This week, more than two dozen firearms were stolen from a Metro East store.
According to Swansea police, 23 pistols, three rifles, and ammunition were stolen in less than two minutes from the Rural King on N. Illinois Street. Two masked suspects were caught on surveillance burglarizing the store.
"They broke in the front by smashing the windows," said Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson. "They then came inside and smashed these glass containers where the firearms were."
The suspects cut the cable securing the rifles, stole some ammunition, and ran out of the store.
The same store was hit in January 2015. Johnson said two individuals were charged in U.S. federal court for stealing guns from the Rural King.
Police are investigating Tuesday's incident and whether the burglary could be connected to other gun thefts in the area.
CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to a felony arrest in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Jason Frank at 618-233-8114 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).
Illinois lawmakers are working to prevent these types of crimes by putting pressure on licensed gun dealers to tighten up security. Last month, Governor J.B. Pritzker <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=100-1178" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">signed the Gun Dealer Licensing Bill into law </a>in an effort to combat illegal gun trafficking.
In part, the new law requires firearm dealers to be licensed by Illinois State Police and obtain a $1,500 state license. Licensed gun dealers must also install video surveillance, have an alarm system that alerts local law enforcement during a break in, and develop a plan to safely store firearms and ammunition during and after store hours. The plan must be approved by the Illinois State Police.
Rural King has surveillance and an alarm system. Despite several attempts to speak with Rural King, it is unclear if the store has a safe storage plan in place.
The Illinois Rifle Association released a statement saying, in part: "Nothing in this bill is going to enhance public safety in Illinois. The only thing that is being accomplished here is the creation of a bureaucratic nightmare for gun dealers."