The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is changing its procedures after a thief stole two assault rifles and a shotgun from the marked vehicles of sheriff's deputies.
Seven vehicles were burglarized Monday morning, including six law enforcement vehicles. On Friday, a Jackson County Sheriff's Office marked vehicle was also vandalized. Weapons were taken from the county vehicles.
Altogether, the crooks got two AR-15 assault rifles, the shotgun and ammunition.
The killer in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut used an AR-15.
"My job is to focus on finding the weapons and the people who stole them," Kansas City police Sgt. Rodney Gentry said Tuesday. "Just because you carry a badge and uphold the law doesn't mean you're immune to being a victim of crime."
The federal government has added $5,000 to bring to $6,000 that would be paid to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest.
Four unmarked Kansas City police vehicles were part of the crime spree. A Kansas City police spokeswoman said no weapons were taken from the department's unmarked KCPD vehicles.
A seventh vehicle, owned by a civilian, was also hit. The vehicles' windows were smashed in.
Duffle bags and documents were taken in addition to the weapons.
Ronda Montgomery, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the sheriff's office allowed deputies to store their weapons in their vehicles because the vehicles were equipped with high security magnetic locks on special lock boxes. Only the operator of the vehicles should have known about using the locking system.
Montgomery said the sheriff's office is working with the vendor to determine how the suspect circumvented the system to gain access to the weapons. In the meantime, deputies are being told not to leave their weapons inside the vehicles when they are unoccupied.
The crime spree was reported to police about 2:30 a.m. in the area of East 76th Street and Breckenridge Avenue, which is just west of Lee's Summit Road in southeast Kansas City.
Officers discovered the crime spree after receiving a report of shots fired. The thief fired off shots from the stolen weapons. Gear was also dumped in a roadside ditch.
Kansas City Maj. Anthony Ell lives in the neighborhood but was not a victim of the crime spree. He said the thief likely sought police radios, uniforms, bullet-proof vests and yes, the weapons as well as "anything that they somehow think they can use."
Using police radios and computers would be difficult without the right codes, Ell said.
"But I try not to keep a lot of things in my vehicle of value because you never know what may happen," he said.
Montgomery said the Independence Police Department, the FBI and U.S. Marshal's Office had cars broken into within the past year.
The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said it is reviewing their policy in the wake of the thefts. The agency now doesn't address firearms in unoccupied vehicles, but does have a policy on using gun locks in vehicles.
The U.S. Marshal's Office said firearms are to be left in a vehicle only if there is a weapons vault.
If you have any information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
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