BABSON PARK (FOX 13) - A break-in at a Polk County home put dozens of guns in the hands of criminals, deputies said Monday. One or more people broke a back window of a home in the Babson Park community and stole a suitcase full of handguns and a safe containing 14 rifles.
"It's very concerning that all these guns are out on the street," said Carrie Horstman, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office. "The good news is the victim had a very good record-keeping system. He had serial numbers for every one of those guns."
The homeowner, Chris Harper, is a gunsmith who also works at the Tenoroc gun range. His boss said he got a frantic call from Parker hours after he left work Friday.
"It was sickening to hear what happened as far as him coming home with his kids and he knew somebody had broken into his home," said Lamar Collins, the range manager.
Investigators said there were 11 fully functioning weapons in the stolen suitcase, along with parts to 39 other guns. The stolen gun safe could have been the size of a person.
"When I hear about this and the experience that I've seen and I think they knew that's what they were looking for. They're easy to sell on the street," said Collins, who is also a gunsmith himself and added the gun parts are basically useless to an average person. "Unless they know what they're doing, they can't do anything with them."
Deputies, however, don't want them falling into the wrong hands and they're hoping to find witnesses.
"Hopefully it was easy for someone to see it being stolen because you have a very large gun safe that's very heavy being taken out of a home. Hopefully somebody saw something," Horstman said.
FOX 13 contacted Harper, who didn't want to comment on the incident. Anyone with information should contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office.