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Search continues for weapons stolen from Worcester armory

Federal, state and local authorities are looking for the person who broke into the US Army Reserve Center in Worcester over the weekend and stole 16 firearms including handguns and assault rifles, officials said Monday.

The missing weapons include 10 9mm handguns and six M-4 assault rifles, Army Reserve spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tad Fichtel said in a statement.

"The US Army Reserve takes this incident seriously and is fully cooperating with the FBI, the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, and other federal and local law enforcement agencies during the investigation," said Fichtel.

The break-in at the Lincoln W. Stoddard United States Army Reserve Center occurred late Saturday, Fichtel said, and almost a day after terrorist attacks in Paris left 130 dead.


The FBI has said there is no indication the crime was linked to any specific threat.

"There is no indication that these missing weapons are connected to any kind of terrorism threat whatsoever at this time," an FBI spokeswoman said.

Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said the break-in occurred between 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday. City police and the Worcester Fire Department were called to the building on North Lake Avenue at 8:39 a.m. Sunday after an employee reported seeing smoke and signs of a break-in, the city manager said.

Augustus said that while "there is no indication that the crime is linked to any specific threat, according to the FBI,'' additional city police officers are being assigned to "several key locations throughout the community, until further notice.''

Surveillance footage captured at the reserve center and obtained from CBS Boston showed a man standing near a black sedan in the parking lot around the time of the theft, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported.

Governor Charlie Baker said the theft at the federal army facility was troubling.


"I'm especially concerned about it, separate and apart from anything that has to do with terrorism," Baker said Monday, speaking after a hearing on substance abuse legislation. "I'm concerned about the fact that some really high caliber weapons were stolen from a military facility in the first place."

Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston said additional police patrols have been assigned around the city.

He said the timing of the episode is unnerving.

Mayor Joseph Petty of Worcester said he has "full faith and confidence" that the investigating agencies will find those responsible for the theft.

The weapons have been entered into the National Crime Information Center, an online database that is searchable by law enforcement agencies, according to the FBI.

Former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis, who now runs a security management consulting company and is not involved in the armory investigation, said the stolen handguns are similar to the firearms police officers carry. But the stolen rifles are the type "used in the war zone" and are "much more powerful and much more problematic."

Many times, Davis said unsophisticated criminals looking to make money by selling the firearms commit such crimes. Any investigation, he said, would likely include looking at "people who know where the weapons are and how they're stored."

"It is likely that whoever did this knew those guns were there," Davis said.

There have been several thefts from US armories in recent years..

Active-duty US Army Staff Sergeant Jorge Luis Solorzano Jr. faces federal charges for allegedly stealing night vision goggles from the Tuxedo Avenue armory in West Palm Beach and pawning them.


In 2013, five National Guard soldiers were charged with stealing high-capacity magazines from the Tennessee National Guard Armory.

David Scharfenberg and John Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom.