SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Authorities say the gun thief went from Gautier to Ocean Springs before making a final stop in D'Iberville.
At Highway 90 Pawn and Gun Shop in Gautier Friday night, the masked man backed his truck into the glass doors, ran inside, busted the display cases with his fists and then took off with nine hand guns.
The burglar was in and out of the shop within about 20 seconds.
"We don't know at this point the suspect and what his motive is to have these weapons, but we do know they are on the street and it could present a problem for our citizens," Gautier Police Chief Dante Elbin said.
About two hours after that break in, the alarm sounded at Cook's Gun Shop in D'Iberville. The scene was a repeat, the suspect got in the same way, busted the display cases, stuffed nine handguns in his backpack and then ran out.
Owner of Cook's Gun Shop Kenneth Cook said, "It's just like someone breaking into your house and raping your daughter, except not quite as bad. We take it personal, I feel responsible for the guns and feel obligated to help get the guns back."
In between the two break-ins, police say the burglar tried to get inside a third shop, Jerry's Irons and Pawn in Ocean Springs. Investigators said the brick around the glass door kept the burglar from being able to bust the glass with his truck and get inside.
ATF Resident Agent in Charge Joel Lee said, "We can't afford to have additional violent crimes in our area, that is our primary concern and that's why we have an urgency in this investigation."
Agent Lee said this type of crime could be gang related, but right now investigators do not have enough information to rule out anyone.
"This is certainly something that gangs and organized crime elements are capable of but we want to make sure we have a broad open ended investigation," Lee said.
The other thing investigators are honing in on to try and catch the culprit is someone trying to sell the stolen guns.
"If someone you don't know is attempting to sell firearms or offer you a deal that's too good to be true, give us a call," Lee said.
If you have any information about the Friday evening crime spree you can call your local police department. You can also call ATF at (228) 575-6501 or you can call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898.
ATF is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief.