TACOMA, Wash. — For years, Tacoma gun owner Richard Heitz thought his collection of rifles and pistols were safe. In fact, he locked all of it inside a safe, which had been dead-bolted and secured in a locked garage.
Heitz still can't believe someone was able to open his automatic garage door Monday, before cracking open his sturdy gun safe, which hadn’t been opened in weeks.
Ten guns were stored in the safe. Nine were gone. A 12-gauge shotgun—several rifles, including a 1938 .22 caliber; five handguns--and hundreds of rounds of ammunition for each one.
Heitz said the burglars also ripped a smaller safe loaded with ammunition and his house keys right out of the wall.
“It’s all gone,” Heitz said, examining the broken steel handle on the heavy safe.
How the burglars cracked the big safe is one mystery--but more frustrating to the Heitz family is why Tacoma police didn't look for fingerprints or take photographs of the crime scene.
"My husband asked the officer about fingerprinting or dusting or any kind of forensic stuff, because the burglars touched our deadbolt on the way out of the garage so we knew there were fingerprints there at least," said Jen Heitz.
Heitz says the Tacoma officer told them since the burglary happened in a detached garage, and not their home, Tacoma police didn't have the manpower for detectives to come and dust for prints.
"I said what kind of idiotic reasoning is that? There's 10 guns missing from my safe,” Heitz said. “(The officer) said well it's just a manpower problem, it's just not a priority."
Tacoma police told KIRO 7 if an officer doesn't believe there are fingerprints to collect, they won't send a detective. Occasionally the issue is with too much dust on an object touched by the suspect, sometimes prints are not spotted under the glare of a flashlight, and sometimes the officer decides fingerprint collecting isn’t necessary, according to a Tacoma police representative.
The representative said staffing was not an issue Monday. The Heitz family told KIRO 7 they will not touch anything still in the safe, in case Tacoma police change their minds.
"There's a criminal running around Tacoma with 10 guns,” said Jen Heitz. “It’s enough ammo to blow up everybody! That's what's frustrating. Don’t you need clues to find it?”
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