CLAYTON, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A recent break-in and theft of five AR-15 style rifles from a Johnston County gun store have highlighted a dubious distinction for North Carolina and South Carolina.
The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the Carolinas lead the nation in break-ins and gun thefts so far in 2016.
"We are not proud that we're number one in the country," said Gerod King the spokesman for the ATFE's regional office in Charlotte.
King said the concern isn't just about those crimes but crimes that the thefts will lead to in the future.
"It's alarming. It's alarming because we realize when we have those firearms that are on the streets, how they acquire those firearms, that's just the initial crime. What we also realize and have to be cognizant of is all the subsequent crimes these potential guns can be involved in," King said
At the Trigger Happy gun shop in downtown Clayton, someone threw a brick through the window two weeks ago and snagged the five rifles.
According to the ATFE, there have been more than 80 thefts from federally licensed gun stores in the Carolinas this year.
And more than 900 guns have been stolen.
The agency is asking gun store owners to beef up security, by installing bars, alarm systems, surveillance cameras and anything else that could prevent or solve break-ins.
The ATFE along with Clayton Police are hoping someone with information about the middle-of-the-night break-in at Trigger Happy on November 23 will come forward and hopefully help keep the stolen guns from being used in other crimes.