Sheriff Grady Judd pleaded with gun store owners to install robust security systems today after two burglars breached a North Lakeland store and spent about 35 seconds stuffing firearms into large duffel bags. (See video below.)

Rapture Guns and Knives, 8216 U.S. 98 North, was protected only with an alarm system and video monitoring although deputies urged the owner last month to install safes and heavy-duty cables, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

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“Gun store owners have a moral and ethical obligation to do everything they can to prevent guns from getting into the hands of criminals,” Judd said.

The store’s owners told deputies in December that safes were too expensive and intruders would just cut through cables, according to the news release.

Two men disabled the store’s front-door lock and 1:35 a.m. today and then smashed a display case to access the firearms, the Sheriff’s Office said. About two minutes after starting to work on the lock, the paid got in a car with about 40 weapons and headed south on U.S. 98.

While the alarm was activated immediately, it was 1:42 before the Sheriff’s Office was notified of the break-in, the news release said.

“Alarm systems alone are not adequate deterrents, or adequate security, at gun stores. We’ve reached out to all of the gun store owners in the county and discussed the importance of having robust security systems in place,” Judd said.

Heartland Crime Stoppers is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the call. Contact them at 1-800-226-TIPS or visit

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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