Gun theft ring at shooting events? It’s bull.

How does an urban legend get started? You know, like the six-foot-alligator living in a Manhattan sewer? Theoretically, with one liar, but they never seem able to track the motherless wretch down. Today’s urban legend is this (received in our email 1/20):

While I was in a Denver gun store today, my car was tagged on the wheel in the parking lot. The gangs do this on wheels or bumpers at gun stores, shooting ranges, gun shows etc. Later when you are parked at a restaurant, hotel, or other location that’s less well guarded or under video surveillance, other gang members spot the marker and break into the car for a quick gun grab. This is so RAMPANT in San Antonio where we were for a National shoot this summer, the police chief of that county came out to brief the 400 participants of our competition. Too bad three teams had already been victimized the first day. This is the first I’ve heard of this in Denver. Please pass this info along to your 2nd amendment list.

This next comment from a Gunsite instructor:

I don’t know how widespread this is becoming, but the info regarding the NSCA Nationals in San Antonio is correct, as all of us who compete in sporting clays know. Competitors there were having their vehicles marked with a small adhesive dot on the rear license plate or rear bumper, then followed for miles and having their vehicles quickly and efficiently broken in to when parked for lunch etc.
Some crews were working the parking lot at the Nationals itself. 27 high end shotguns were taken there recently. They know when 1400 shooters with high $$ competition guns are in town.
I shot with a young man who was trying out a new gun at the Nationals. He and his father lost all their guns and equipment while making a quick stop for lunch at a BBQ place in Corpus Christi the month before.

In the original, different colors made it clear that the first paragraph and the last one were supposed to be written by two different guys, with the middle graf being the email sender’s editorial comment. It’s a truly alarming message for any gun owner — for the poor guy with a single shotgun he uses hunting, to the rich guy with what the news will call an “arsenal” if he ever gets in trouble, nobody wants his guns taken and used in crime.

Our first thought was, “why didn’t we hear of this?” If people had been ripped off of dozens of pricey competition shotguns, why didn’t we hear about it? Also, where would the thieves dispose of the guns? Really, it’s one thing to fence a Hi-Point that was $100 new. What about a $12,000, gold-inlaid Perazzi? Do you go into a pawnshop and ask, “Yo dawg, whatchu gimme on this here bling’d-out blaster, an’ s’it?” We don’t see that working even with the right syntax and diction. See? “I say, old boy, a liquidity situation impels me to enquire as to the market…”

Well, turns out the reason we never heard of it is simple: it never happened. No thefts (not just not 27, not one), no briefing by an anxious sheriff, no sophisticated gang of criminals.

Here’s the NRA throwing the BS flag.

Here’s the National Sporting Clays Association throwing the BS flag also, but independently.

Now, just because this particular theft ring is figmentatious, that doesn’t mean there are no thieves around. Basic situational awareness and sensible risk management will prevent you from becoming a victim. And a little thought might help you be one of those nodes on the net where irresponsible urban legends go to die.

Of course, if we do encounter theft gangs, all we have to do is put them down the nearest sewer.  And wait for the alligators to do their thing.

(Image: from the 2011 Weblog Awards’ Best Science Blog, WattsUpWithThat )

 

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