A recent rash of robberies in the area bare similar hallmarks to one another and it has local law enforcement asking if a thievery ring has descended on the area – setting their sights on firearms.
Red Oak Outfitters in Pilot Mountain was the latest victim of what appears to be a smash and grab operation that took place at 9:35 p.m. on Sunday, Nov.6. Exact times are known due to the timestamps on security tapes.
A dark colored Nissan is seen on security camera footage that owner Tanner Hamilton shared on social media. Five individuals exit the vehicle to enter the store through the front door that was brought down by the Nissan used as a battering ram. A sixth individual moves from the back seat into the driver’s seat as the entry team begins their operation.
With multiple angles shown, viewers can watch the Nissan approach, riders dismount, rummage and ransack the store, and then flee within 90 seconds of arrival. These thieves had a plan and appeared to execute it to near perfection with one of their lot lingering behind to take another run at a locked cabinet before joining the fleeing burglars and fleeing in a dark colored Nissan with front end damage.
Hamilton of Red Oak Outfitters told WGHP that he takes the break-in personally as any business owner would. He noted the thieves stayed away from hunting weapons instead “preferring the other kind.” Based on the video and the police report, it appears the thieves primarily wanted handguns. He shared the video in hopes that someone may recognize the vehicle or its occupants.
Chief L.R. Jackson of the Pilot Mountain Police Department provided an update Thursday afternoon to the break-in, “The firearms ranged from handguns to long guns. The ATFE is assisting by conducting an inventory of the firearms at the business to see exactly what was stolen. It appears that 19 firearms total were stolen. Multiple agencies are assisting in the investigation including the NC SBI and the Bureau of ATFE.”
Damage to the store and the value of the stolen items is estimated to total over $50,000.
What makes this more alarming is that it comes on the heels of another similarly executed front door meets automotive battering ram entry method. The manager of Foothills Firearms in Yadkinville says that around 1 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 31, someone drove into the store and stole ten handguns.
Again, in this instance the thieves, a duo with getaway driver, were in the store for under a minute. In this break-in the vehicle in question was described as a burgundy Toyota Sedan.
According to the manager, the thieves were in and out quickly, probably less than a minute. He believes that two people came into the store with a third suspect driving.
Major Scott Hudson of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office said they are “aware of the incidents and the SCSO does active security checks throughout the county which includes the gun store/shops within the county jurisdiction.”
When asked if there were any correlation between the robbery of weapons from Red Oak Outfitters, Foothills Firearms, Rabbit Ridge Gun Shop in Ararat, Va., and a break in at Granite City Gold and Pawn Shop on South Main St. in Mount Airy that was discovered Monday Chief Jackson said, “At this time we are unable to determine if this incident is related to other incidents in Yadkin County, Mount Airy, or Virginia. This matter is currently an ongoing investigation and no further details are being released at this time.”
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at (336) 786-4000.