SAN ANTONIO – Firearms can be good business for pawn shops, but they can also be a concern.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said a thief or thieves were able to make off with 36 guns and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry Monday morning after coming through the roof of the Cash America Pawn location in the 8100 block of Bandera Road.
As the ATF asked for the public's help and offered a $10,000 reward on Thursday, word of the theft spread to Alamo Pawn & Jewelry, a few miles away.
"That's our No. 1 ticket item that people bring in on a daily (basis), so for it's also something that people come in to steal," said Sarah Davila, a pawn broker at the business's Huebner Road location.
As investigators look for the suspect or suspects who broke into the Cash America location, employees at Alamo Pawn & Jewelry said they make sure to secure their guns overnight. The long guns are locked up behind some heavy boards in the store room.
"They could get through this, sure, they could tear it all down, but it would take them time, and police response is like five minutes," said general manager Eddie LaViolette.
But the handguns are treated with more care. They are loaded into cases and put in a vault overnight.
"I mean how many rifles can you carry out in your hands, you know?" LaViolette said. "Like these (handguns), you can just load them up in your pants or whatever they got, and they're out of here. So we definitely pack those in the vault."
Even with its precautions, the business has had its share of troubles. Employees said thieves once drove a vehicle through the front door and went for the guns. Fortunately, their security protections held up.
"It took too long, and I guess they got a little scared and worried," Davila said, noting that the store's cameras captured the attempted theft. "So they just left the stolen car here and ran on foot."
LaViolette said Alamo Pawn's other location had a burglary where someone came in through the roof. He said they upgraded their security system afterward.
"You know, like now. Like if there's a noise, it's not going to go, you know, unnoticed," he said. "It's going to tell us something's going on."
Time and experience help them to become more secure, he said, so they can make sure thieves don't get in again.