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Denver man sentenced for smash-and-grab of 13 AR-15-style rifles from Littleton gun store

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Posted at 7:46 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 09:46:04-04

DENVER — A 31-year-old man from Denver was sentenced to prison Wednesday for a smash-and-grab of more than a dozen AR-15-style rifles from a local gun store.

Justin Vigil was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison followed by three years on supervised release, according to an announcement from United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn.

The sentence stems from a crime on Jan. 18, 2018. On that day, Vigil and five others burglarized Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, a federally licensed firearm dealer in Littleton. The group threw rocks through a glass window and stole 13 AR-15-style firearms within three minutes, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

That evening, officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed a search warrant at one of the suspects' homes and found evidence of the crime. They discovered five firearms that were stolen during that burglary, Murdoch's sales tags, and a handwritten ledger listing Murdoch's and other places to be burglarized, according to the DOJ.

Vigil was charged in connection to the crime, but before pleading guilty, he cut off his GPS ankle monitoring bracelet. He remained at-large for several months.

When he was located, he took a plea deal.

One of his co-defendants, Jonathan Estrada, 21, of Denver, was sentenced on Feb. 27, 2020 to serve eight years in prison, followed by three years on supervised release for his role in this burglary, another gun store burglary, and a carjacking, according to the DOJ.

Both men were part of a violent smash-and-grab organization that focused on burglarizing federal firearms licensees.

Dunn said the theft of any AR-15-style rifles is a reason for concern since the firearms will likely end up in the hands of violent individuals.

"As these criminals target gun stores, federal law enforcement and my office will target them with laser focus,” he said.

In Colorado in 2019, 135 firearms were stolen in nine separate burglaries, according to statistics from ATF. In 2018, there were 64 firearms stolen in eight burglaries, and in 2017, there were 427 stolen firearms in 28 burglaries.