Prison interior. Jail cells, dark background.

A Denver man received a 39-month federal prison sentence on Wednesday for stealing more than one dozen AR-15 semiautomatic rifles from a Littleton gun shop.

“Prosecuting gun crimes is a top priority for my office and the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney for Colorado Jason R. Dunn said. Firearm theft “causes a substantial community safety concern because they likely end up in the hands of violent criminals, gangs and drug trafficking organizations.”

Police reports state that Justin Vigil, 31, and five others broke into Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply on Jan. 18, 2018, stealing 13 rifles in three minutes. Law enforcement searched the residence of one of the perpetrators that same day, locating five of the weapons and the corresponding Murdoch’s sales tags.

Prosecutors charged Vigil, but before pleading guilty he cut off his ankle monitor and was wanted for several months. His co-defendant, Jonathan Estrada, 21, received a sentence of 96 months in prison for the Littleton burglary and other crimes.

Dunn’s office reported that there were 135 firearms stolen in Colorado in a total of nine burglaries last year. That represented a 111% increase from 2018, which saw 64 stolen firearms — but a substantial decrease from the 427 purloined guns in 2017. Nationwide last year, there were a total of 21,535 guns stolen.

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