SAXTON - One or more thieves escaped with a large number of handguns after breaking into a Saxton-area sporting goods shop early Monday morning, authorities said.
The thief or thieves - police haven't indicated the number of suspects - entered Saxton Outdoor Supply along Raystown Road around 2:30 a.m., Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Steve Bartholomew said Monday afternoon.
The perpetrators used a vehicle to forcibly enter the building, Bartholomew said. An employee said damage to the store was repaired by Monday afternoon.
"A large [number] of handguns" were taken, Bartholomew said. Agents were still tallying the number of missing guns on Monday.
Police haven't named any suspects, he said.
Store owner Kevin Pawuk was discussing the theft with investigating ATF agents Monday afternoon.
A joint state police-ATF investigation will seek to intercept the handguns before they can be sold to criminals, Bartholomew said.
In 2010, the ATF reported more than 5,000 guns stolen from dealers nationwide. Of those stolen and missing, nearly half were handguns.
More than a third of those arrested for crimes involving handguns acquired their weapons on the black market - a possible last stop for the Saxton guns - according to Daniel Webster and Jon Vernick, director and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the ATF at 800-ATF-GUNS or 1-800-283-4867.