Waterloo Police Charge Five in Gun Theft, Searching For Firearms

By Chris Earl, Reporter

WATERLOO, Iowa - Police credit "good, investigative police work" with arresting five people, including four teenagers, after a Monday break-in on the city's southwest side that has them looking for 28 firearms.

Investigators say that, on Monday, homeowners at 4558 William Drive returned to a home that Cpt. Tim Pillack said, on Wednesday, was "ransacked."

Among the items missing: jewelry, video games and 28 guns.

By Tuesday, police had obtained enough information to arrest and charge Darrius Redd, 26, on nine counts of trafficking in stolen weapons and nine counts of possession of weapons as a felon.

Pillack said the order of events in the crime started on Monday at the break-in. Once the guns from the house were stolen, investigators believe four teenagers, between the ages of 14 and 17, were able to unload at least nine of the weapons to Redd.

"We have officers that are familiar with some of the criminals in town and we got information that these kids might be involved," said Pillack.

A criminal complaint said the nine weapons included "eight pistols and one assault-style rifle".

"The guns were traded for money and marijuana," said Pillack. "In this situation, the kids wanted to get rid of the guns and were able to find somebody to trade them for what they wanted."

The burglary came from one of Waterloo's newest and more upscale neighborhoods, just off West 4th Street and West Shaulis Road, south of U.S. Highway 20.

Now the focus shifts on recovering the stolen guns.

"We try to get the word out that we're looking for (the firearms) to be able to determine where they might be and who might be in possession of them," said Pillack. "Here, if a gun owner or a gun shop would get them in, they would run them and show that they've been stolen."

Four miles from the burglary, Mike Rosteck stands in a room filled with rifles and pistols. The owner of Mr. Guns on Main Street in Cedar Falls, Rosteck said he has policies and procedures for when an outside firearm comes across his case.

"We would look at who came through the door and, of course, these young people would not have collector guns or higher-quality guns," said Rosteck. "We would call the police department and, if we buy them, we take their photographs, their photo IDs from their driver's license and that's on our records if police come in to show them who we purchased them from."

Like every major police department, Waterloo has worked to pick up unregistered guns from the street, including a gun/gas buyback program in 2011, where people were offered $100 and $150 gas cards, in exchange for turning in a firearm.

Yet the process of tracking stolen guns is part of police work in Eastern Iowa.

A November 2013 report looked inside the 2008 burglary of the Scheels at Coral Ridge Mall. Police in Coralville worked this case for years to track down the 17 missing guns, with many of the weapons turning up in Chicago police reports.

In early 2013, thieves broke into a garage in Palo, in Linn County, stealing 72 guns. Last fall, Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said 47 of the weapons had been recovered, most of them at a resale shop in Cedar Rapids.
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