$20K reward offered to solve smash-and-grab firearms theft

A $20,000 reward is being offered to find the person responsible for burglarizing a northeast Georgia pawn shop and making off with firearms.

Investigators believe that a church van stolen from Atlanta was used in a smash-and-grab burglary at Gene's Pawn Shop in Cornelia early April 25. About three hours later, the same van and suspects were part of a smash-and-grab at a southwest Atlanta clothing store, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

In the Cornelia burglary, several firearms were stolen, according to police. The suspects then allegedly drove about 90 miles to the City G.E.A.R. store on Headland Drive in southwest Atlanta. There, the thieves drove the van through the front of the store, then helped themselves to 30 shirts, 10 pairs of pants and five pairs of shoes before leaving in the van through smashed glass, Atlanta police previously said.

In both burglaries, a white van with “International Ministries 2000” on the side, was involved, according to police. The van had been stolen from a church on County Line Road in Atlanta and was later found in the 2900 block of Campbellton Road, police said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Atlanta Field Division is the lead agency investigating the firearms theft in Cornelia. The ATF is offering a $10,000 reward to find the suspects responsible, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation is offering an additional $10,000, bringing the total reward to $20,000.

“Gun thieves play a critical and deadly role in the chain of violence,” Aladino Ortiz, ATF special agent, said in an emailed statement. “ATF remains on the frontline of solving these crimes and reducing violent crime.”

Anyone with information about the theft of the firearms should contact the ATF’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477). Callers can remain anonymous. Anyone with information on the Atlanta incident or the suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.