LITTLE ROCK – Police are investigating the theft of more than a dozen guns and 450 rounds of ammunition around 2:30 a.m. Sunday at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.
RK Shows hosted a gun show over the weekend at the State Fairgrounds Hall of Industry, where the commercial burglary and felony theft of property occurred.
The security guard on duty told police the back door to the building was open and the chain that was on the inside of the door was broken, according to an incident report released Tuesday by the Police Department.
Based on security camera footage, the security guard’s supervisor described the suspect as a black man wearing a camouflage jacket, black beanie and white shoes, the report said. The suspect was seen in the footage going to vendors’ booths in the back of the building and appeared to wrap a gun in a white sheet, according to the report.
Officers saw a rifle and rifle parts scattered on the floor inside building and discovered two drum magazines, one AK47 40-round magazine and one AR15 pistol brace wrapped in a sheet behind the building, according to the report.
Four out of the more than 50 exhibitors reported stolen merchandise, according to the report and Doug White, fairgrounds president and general manager.
Nothing like this has ever happened at the fairground to his knowledge, White said. A spokesman from RK Shows said the group hadn’t seen anything like this either.
“We’ve had some petty theft and trashing of the facilities, but nothing like this,” White said. “It seems to me to be extremely well-organized.”
An estimated $16,252 worth of guns, ammunition and gear were taken, according to the report. The report listed 19 guns, from pistols to semi-automatic rifles, taken in the heist.
Event organizers can contract with the fairgrounds to use its security guards. One was on duty that night stationed at the window-filled front foyer, making tours around the hall twice an hour, White said. When he saw the previously permanently-closed door near the loading dock ajar, he immediately called 911 as he was trained to do, White said.
The fairground is in the process of giving police the footage from four security cameras in the hall as well as from some outside-stationed cameras.
In 2019, five different gun shows came through the fairgrounds, including from RK Shows. White said he thinks it’s possible whoever was involved in the burglary had “been to this show in the past and knew the lay of the land.”
The fairgrounds currently has 40 security guards trained. White said the fairgrounds is looking into heightened security measures, such as adding louder alarms and more high-tech security cameras.
“We want patrons and exhibitors to feel like they’re in safe environment.” White said.