UPDATE (July 31, 2019)– Authorities arrested several arrests have been made. Click here to read more.
NEW WHITELAND, Ind. – Federal agents are working with several police departments after burglars stole more than 30 weapons from a gun store in New Whiteland over the weekend.
Investigators confirm they are looking into whether the same group of suspects also broke into a gun store on the south side of Indianapolis.
Around 4:15 Saturday morning, New Whiteland police were called to a burglary alarm at Element Armament, at 400 Tracy Road, just off U.S. 31. Surveillance video shows a group of five individuals kicking in a door to the business before running inside and smashing display cases. Within a few minutes, the suspects ran out of the store with 33 guns.
The suspects appear to be males wearing hooded sweatshirts, gloves and backpacks. The owner of the store says the burglars got away with 13 long guns, 20 handguns and two silencers.
The crime is unusual for the normally quiet small town.
“This one’s a little bit bigger,” said New Whiteland Police Chief Joe Rynerson. “It’s federal, and that’s why we have the ATF involved. And we plan on finding out what we can to get this resolved as soon as possible.”
While investigating the crime, Rynerson learned the New Whiteland store may not have been the only one targeted by the burglars.
“I’ve been told that there was a break-in at a gun shop an hour prior to the one that happened to us,” Rynerson said.
The other break-in, about an hour earlier, happened at Indy Trading Post along Madison Avenue on the south side of Indianapolis. Surveillance video from that burglary shows a group of individuals arriving in a small, red car. The video shows the suspects working together to break in a door before running inside the store. The group is seen running to different parts of the store, appearing to look for items to grab.
However, the owner of Indy Trading Post says the burglars didn’t find any guns because the store is currently being remodeled and no guns are being stored inside. After viewing the video from the New Whiteland burglary, the owner says he’s convinced the same group of suspects also broke into his store.
Investigators confirm they are looking into possible connections between the two break-ins.
One of the best leads in the investigation came when Southport police attempted to perform a traffic stop near Madison Avenue and Southport Road Sunday morning. They say the person drove away from the traffic stop, leading to a short pursuit that ended a few blocks away in the 7700 block of Homestead Drive.
Southport police say the driver ditched the car and ran off.
“When the officer secured the scene and the vehicle, two firearms and additional evidence were found outside of the vehicle and recovered,” Southport police said in a statement. “One of these firearms was linked to a robbery of a business in New Whiteland Indiana.”
“We gathered a lot of evidence, we got a lot of fingerprints that we’ve got at this point in time,” Rynerson said. “And we’ve got to work with Indiana State Police on finding out what we’re going to do with those.”
The ATF says they are working with New Whiteland police, Southport police and IMPD, and the investigation is ongoing.
“We want to get these guns off the street,” Rynerson said. “These are guns that are going to be considered illegal. My biggest fear is that they’re going to get in the wrong hands or with gang members.”