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13 assault rifles stolen from freight container at rail yard

Updated: May 10, 2014 5:33PM

Authorities are investigating the theft of 13 semi-automatic assault rifles from a freight train container at a South Side rail yard.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was notified about the theft of Smith & Wesson AR-15 Sport rifles in the early morning hours of May 4th, said ATF Special Agent Thomas Ahern on Friday.

Thieves had broken into a freight train car operated by Norfolk Southern Railway Corp., that was parked at a rail yard at 61st and Lafayette in the Englewood neighborhood, Ahern said. They then broke into the container with the weapons, Ahern said.

Authorities do not believe the thieves had prior knowledge of the gun shipment, Ahern said.

“This happens from time to time, where these train cars are burglarized,” he said. “These train cars could have had anything on them that ships by rail, from shoes to computers, but the thieves just happened to hit on a shipment of guns.” The 13 weapons were among 50 rifles being shipped from Smith & Wesson on the East Coast to a federally licensed gun dealer in Minneapolis through Chicago, Ahern said.

“These are big, heavy, bulky items, not easily unloadable. We’re thankful they weren’t able to get the entire 50 guns, but one gun is too many in the arms of the wrong person,” he said.

The ATF is working with the Chicago Police Department and Norfolk Southern Railway Corp. police on the investigation, Ahern said. No arrests have been made, nor suspects identified.

“Right now, we are conducting interviews, and trying to pull in our sources to see if anyone has any information as to the whereabouts of those guns. Considering all of the violent crimes and gun crimes in the Englewood area, we’re anxious to recover them, and hopefully, we will,” Ahern said.

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