Reward offered in theft of firearms from South Side arms dealer

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Video surveillance shows the breaking and entering at AAA Customs where dozens of high-powered weapons were taken. Police believe three people were involved in the theft and are hoping they can be identified from this still photo.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A federal agency is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of men who stole three dozen high-powered rifles and handguns from a South Side arms dealer.

Robert Miller, resident agent in charge of the Youngstown office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said three men broke into the AAA Customs at 2500 Market St. in the early-morning hours Sunday.

Two of the men went inside the store and one waited outside.

The theft, he said, was not random.

“I believe the store was targeted,” Miller said. “They [AAA Customs] are in the process of increasing their security and remaining in business.”

Police Chief Rod Foley would not say exactly what guns were taken from the shop, but he did say there were a number of high- powered rifles stolen.

He said the shop owners do have a federal license to have and sell the firearms.

Foley said he hopes the $5,000 reward brings someone to law enforcement with information before the guns get into the wrong hands.

“I don’t want these guns hitting the streets without anyone knowing about it,” the chief said.

“Hopefully, if someone sees them out there they will tip us off that somebody out there is trying to sell these guns. The problem we have with these types of guns is they just exchange hands so quickly. ... It can be up to two or three people in one day. We don’t want them in the wrong hands and used in some turf wars out there.”

The chief has reason to be concerned about the firearms hitting the streets.

The city recently had an example of what can happen when the wrong people have access to high-powered guns with the shooting death of 8-year-old Bryce Linebaugh last month.

Bryce was shot in the head while he slept in the top portion of his bunk bed in an upstairs bedroom of his home at 1404 Maplewood Court in Rockford Village on the city’s East Side in August.

A stray bullet from a high-powered rifle used in a drive-by shooting killed the boy.

The ATF released video surveillance footage of the robbery to the media and are hoping someone can identify the robbers.

Anyone with information is asked to call the ATF crime gun hot line at 1-800-ATF-GUNS or the Youngstown Police Department at 330-747-7911.

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