OLEY — Four teenagers broke into an Oley Township gun store over the weekend and made off with dozens of firearms valued at more than $25,000, Central Berks Regional police said Tuesday.
Police responded to an automatic burglar alarm at Cro-Arms Guns and Ammo, 959 Memorial Highway, shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
Officers found evidence of a break-in and later learned that 45 guns — rifles as well as handguns — had been taken.
In addition to the guns, damages estimated at more than $18,000 were done to the business, including smashed windows, plywood and display cases, investigators said.
Detective Sgt. Deron Manndel said Detective Ronald Linderman was called in and spent much of the Labor Day weekend working with agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Investigators found some important evidence had been left behind, including a cellphone that led them to identify one of the suspects.
"Fortunately, they were kind of sloppy," Manndel said.
Some of the guns were recovered on the property, having apparently been dropped along with the cellphone.
The four teen suspects, ages 15 through 17, were identified along with two men who drove them to and from the burglarized gun shop. Two of the teens are in custody, but investigators are trying to locate the other two.
One of the adult suspect, Johnathan A. Rodriguez, 20, of Cumru Township, admitted to agents that he drove some of the teens to and from the scene using a relative's car, according to investigators. As compensation, he received several of the stolen guns and $100.
Rodriguez, of the first block of Fairway Road, was free on $25,000 bail after arraignment Monday before District Judge Ann L. Young in Reading Central Court.
The other adult defendant, Nathan Diaz, 18, was taken into custody Sunday afternoon when ATF agents came to his home in the 2800 block of Mannerchoir Road in Muhlenberg Township.
According to court records, agents encountered a juvenile male who ran from them. They caught him and found one of the stolen handguns from the Cro-Arms burglary.
Diaz was free on $100,000 bail after arraignment before Young on Monday.
Rodriguez and Diaz face felony counts of conspiracy to commit theft and burglary and receiving stolen property.
The juveniles did the actual break-ins and thefts, Manndel said.
"Ten of the guns have been recovered at this point," Manndel said this afternoon. "We're still working to track down more of the guns."
What the teens were planning to do with all of the guns remains a focus of the ongoing investigation by police and the ATF, he said.