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3 men face charges in LR gun show theft

6 firearms in $16,000 haul recovered by William Sanders | January 30, 2021 at 7:42 a.m.

Little Rock Police arrested three men in relation to a Jan. 3 burglary and theft from a gun show at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds, according to authorities.

Matthew Thomas, 22, of Bryant; Kaleb Barnett, 23, of Alexander; and Vincente Cantu, 22, of Little Rock are each charged with felony commercial burglary and 10 felony counts of theft of property.

On Jan. 3, officers responded just after 3 a.m. to the fairgrounds at 2600 Howard St., where security told police the back door to the gun show entrance was open with the chain on the inside of the door broken, according to a police report.

The security team manager told police video evidence showed the theft of a long-barrel gun wrapped in a white sheet.

Security footage showed a person entering the vendor areas in the back but did not show whether anything was stolen, the report said.

Officers observed vendors' items scattered on the floor and several items moved from their original place, the report said.

At the back of the building, police found a sheet wrapping two drum magazines, one AK-47 40-round magazine and one AR-15 pistol brace, the report said.

Officers also found the east gate of the fairgrounds without barbed wire.

When vendors arrived at 8:30 a.m., police directed them to check their inventory, according to the report.

According to the vendors' count, burglars took a Mosin-Nagant 1939 rifle, a Tec-9 pistol, a drum magazine, .38 ammunition, mixed ammo, a hand guard, an Arex Rex Zero 1 9mm pistol, a Springfield XD-S Mod.2 handgun, a 9mm Ruger pistol, a Bersa TPR9C pistol, a Taurus revolver, a Canik pistol, a JTS Group shotgun, two Citadel shotguns, 15 boxes of 5.56 ammunition, an Alexander Arms .50 rifle, five Visum Body Armor Plate Carriers without plates, a Remington shotgun and a custom shotgun.

The combined cost of the stolen items is estimated by police at over $16,000.

Little Rock police sent out an officer safety broadcast that day because of the number of firearms stolen, the report said.

Officers arrested Cantu on Jan. 13 in Benton, an arrest report said.

Barnett was picked up just north of Alexander at the county line by Bryant police on Wednesday, according to a second arrest report.

Thomas was taken into custody at the Little Rock Police 12th Street Substation on Thursday, a third arrest report said.

Little Rock police have recovered six of the stolen firearms, according to spokesman officer Eric Barnes.

Investigators believe the theft was opportunistic and not a planned theft with a motive, Barnes said.

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