Someone breaks into a man's home and steals $15,000 worth of guns, and now the man is concerned his weapons are committing someone else's crimes.
Franklin Dixon says since last April, he's had a lot of restless nights.
"It felt like I'd been truly violated," he says. "My sanctity of my home had been shattered."
That's when someone broke into his home and stole a dozen of his guns, and now when he hears about local gun violence...
"It breaks my heart," he says. "Because the first thing I think, is ‘Wow. I wonder if that was one of my guns.'"
Nearly a year later and Greenville police have yet to recover any of them. In 2012, they investigated more than 100 cases just like Dixon's, while the Pitt County Sheriff's Office accrued reports of 97 stolen guns.
"We have strategies that we use to make it harder for criminals to be criminals," says Chad Suggs, a detective with the sheriff's office. "But we can't stop people from doing things if they decide they want to commit a crime. There's no way for us to be everywhere all at one time."
Suggs says it's difficult to track stolen guns, and while felons cannot legally buy one, he says they find other ways to get what they want. They can steal them or convince friends or family members without criminal records to buy them.
So, what can gun owners do to protect themselves and their community?
"When you do decide you want to be a firearms owner, document and record all the weapons you own and all their serial numbers," Suggs says. "So in the event they are stolen, you have the information to provide to law enforcement so that we can use that to track your gun."
Dixon says police have the serial numbers for his guns, but he admits he could've done more.
"I don't want another human being to get hurt with something that I purchased and couldn't keep control of," he says. "That's the way I feel. I let myself down."
Detectives say gun owners should always keep their weapons in a locked case, in a secure area of their home. And they say you should never advertise you own a gun or where you keep it, so criminals don't make you a target.
Dixon is offering a $250 reward for any information regarding his stolen guns. So if you know anything, you're asked to call the Greenville Police Department at (252) 329-4317.
3221 South Evans Street
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