CHARLOTTE, NC -- Charlotte's ATF field office has been the busiest in the country with gun thefts, with 900 guns stolen from dealers.

"I can tell you unequivocally this is the highest that we've ever had, we know that," said ATF Public Information Officer Gerod King. "This crime trend right now we haven't seen this crime trend before but we are also making it a priority."

King says crooks are targeting licensed gun dealers and getting their weapons through theft, burglary or robbery. There have been 81 incidents in North and South Carolina so far this year, putting 900 guns in the hands of criminals.

"When people acquire guns this way, it's not for legal purpose," King declared.

7 gun dealers have been burglarized and 2 robbed in the Charlotte area just in the last 30 days.

ATF agents say some of these cases are linked but some have no connection at all.

King says tracking stolen guns isn't easy. Many will find their way to our streets, others will travel up north on Interstate 95 also know as the iron pipeline.

"Their major concerns are they will end up in other cities once they go into a life of crime there are no boundaries where these firearms can go," he explained.

King says the ATF has reached out to the 4000 licensed gun dealers in the Carolinas, urging them to take extra precautions to secure their weapons and protect their businesses. The agency is offering $175,00 in reward money for information about these cases.

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