Las Vegas police worry stolen guns are in dangerous hands

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas police fear that two dozen guns stolen in a robbery about three months ago might have ended up in the hands of convicted felons and gang members.

Detectives said about 80 guns were taken during a holdup at Craven's Gun Haven in Las Vegas. Police eventually recovered more than half of the stolen arsenal, including two fully automatic weapons, thanks to a tip and the efforts of investigators.

But the other weapons remain on the streets, police said.

"The guns that are still out there are not going to decent people," said Steve Popp, a Las Vegas police detective.

Three gang members were arrested in connection with the heist, leading authorities to believe that the guns were intended for gang members.

"Our investigation indicates the motives for the robbery were to arm other gang members and to make some money by selling these guns on the street," Clark County prosecutor Phil Brown said. "It's pretty brazen, gang members stealing guns. This is the type of stuff that gives law enforcement a heart attack."

The recovered guns have turned up in the possession of people with at least a cursory gang affiliation or serious criminal histories.

One of the stolen guns has been tied to a robbery last month. Another gun was discovered during a traffic stop last week involving a felon. That was the second time police nabbed a felon with one of the stolen guns.

Police learned that the man had purchased the gun from a gang member for $150.

"Guns are continuing to pop up here from time to time," Brown said.

So far, the guns haven't been linked to any slayings, but police believe it might just be a matter of time before one is used in a deadly shooting.

In 1996, a gun store was robbed and the weapons were connected eventually to three murders.


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