Stolen Gun, Back Where It Belongs

Joshua R. had his truck stolen five years ago. In it was his Remington 870.

I would make something up, but truck got stolen 5 years ago, FBI busted a dealer 3 years ago and he had it in his possession. He got convicted on May 16th this year and I just picked it up at FBI hq



Three years locked up in evidence? Is that a normal time frame to get your property back? Has anyone else had a firearm stolen and got it back?

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • Will

    It is not unusual. I had guns stolen in a burglary plus I worked in evidence/property for a major mid-west sheriffs department.
    The evidence must be kept, as received, until the trial plus all appeals are done. So, yes, three years is pretty normal.
    “Fair and speedy” trials are a myth. Fair; yes. Speedy; no.

    • Sianmink

      there’s a right to a speedy trial, but most waive it for one reason or another.

      • Bill

        All that means is that it drags out longer.

        • Gary Kirk

          That’s the intent, The longer it takes, the more likely that witness statements won’t match with testimony.. Things get lost, or fall out of chain of possession, evidence degrades, or completely goes away… YADAYADA.. The longer you can put it off, the more likely you are to get out

      • Gary Kirk

        They give up their right to a speedy trial, for their right to a long drawn out one that involves them getting off on a technicality

      • RICH

        I’ve seen trials drag out for over 5 years….. and witnesses pass away ! ! That’s our dysfunctional judicial system.

        • Charles Montgomery Rockson

          Pass away…. with no witnesses.

    • Tothe

      I question the fairness as well.

  • Scott

    I am a Gunsmith and a customer of mine had a Colt Python stolen from him in Los Angeles in 1986. I do not know when it was recovered, however, in 2013, LA Co Sheriffs forwarded to the local PD in Texas where he lives now. He immed dropped it off to me as the finish and function were basically destroyed. We were able to restore it to like new condition, including new blueing from Colt. The system works folks, just not as fast as we would like.

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      Stories like these warms my heart.

      • Gary Kirk

        It’s always nice to get reunited with a long lost firearm.. The only problem is most pds do nothing as far as maintaining them. They claim that they have to keep them as collected, But most don’t get picked up rusted beyond use.. Sad but true

        • A bearded being from beyond ti


          • Gary Kirk

            Sorry brother, didn’t mean to ruin your moment.. But hey, that’s what us armorers are for.. When the customer gets it back the second time all nice and pretty.. That’s what warms the heart

          • A bearded being from beyond ti


          • Gary Kirk

            And notice, I said I am an armorer, not a gunsmith.. Although I do tinker with that as well, I mostly do repair/ replacement of parts, and some refinishing.. The I built my own ar so I’m a gunsmith crowd worry me..

          • A bearded being from beyond ti


        • Bill

          That depends. A firearm can travel from the scene to the evidence room to the lab to exams by attorneys back to the evidence room then to court then to the evidence room. We also can’t alter the gun from the condition in which it was found, though lab tests may do that. A gun that has biological material on it, and many that are used at close range in violent crimes do, will invariably corrode and probably pit, as blood and different tissues have a high salt/saline content.

          After any forensic tests are done, we wipe firearms down to the extent possible and secure them in a dehumidified room. Our task is to preserve them, not necessarily maintain them.

          And no, we don’t gouge our initials into them with a diamond-tipped scratch awl to mark them as evidence.

          • Gary Kirk

            Mr. Bill, I never inferred that “you” made any markings on the firearm in question.. I’m guessing that you yourself are in the firearms forensics field from your depth of knowledge. And my statements were in no way detrimental to what you and those like you do. All I was stating, is that many minor infractions, that wind up with a firearm in the care of a local LEA. Wind up in questionable care at the best.. I understand how bodily fluids affect different metals and finishes. And how firearms used in such crimes need to be gone over in a particular manner, and chain of possession needs to be maintained. And all processes used to extract evidence properly documented. And some of these processes can cause irreversible damage to said firearm, was merely stating my small role in taking said firearm, and reinstating it to it’s former glory.. In no way did I mean to sound rude towards the forensics field. I know y’all have your job to do. And I’m sure it irritates any of you that enjoy the shooting sports to do what you have to do to perfectly good firearms in the name of your job.

          • RICH

            You’re 100% correct Bill. A firearm can acquire a lot of miles as well as mis-handling during the course of a trial…… and rarely does anybody ever bother to wipe them down or clean them. I have seen some gorgeous firearms ruined while being held as evidence.

  • Twilight sparkle

    One of my cousins had a 1911 that was stolen and got it back two(ish) years later still loaded with hydra shoks

  • Sianmink

    Looks like it came back in rather worse shape than he left it.

    • Porty1119

      It’s an Express model. What did you expect?

  • Gary Kirk

    Anyone else notice the box says tactical 12 gauge? Really? It’s just got a mag tube extension.. Which with that timeframe 870 just means another 3 malfunctions to clear…

    • Michigunner

      Remington makes a variant of the 870 called an 870 Express Tactical, and that looks to be what it is.

      • Gary Kirk

        Could be, but wouldn’t the rest of the mag tube RUST at the same rate if it was factory? Actually faster, since that’s where the fore end slides, therefore wearing the finish even quicker?

  • Jeff Smith

    Similar story: a friend’s mother was sexually assaulted back in the 90s. She managed to grab a handgun and put a couple of bullets in his back as he was going out the door. The police seized the gun for use as evidence. Years later, he was arrested for another sexual assault and part of the evidence used against him was the fact that he still had a bullet lodged in his shoulder that belonged to my friend’s mother’s gun. They’ve been trying to get the gun back for years, but the jerk keeps appealing and the DA’s office has kept the gun as evidence.

    • Gary Kirk

      Have her shoot him again with it.. And see the results

      • CountryBoy

        Absolutely. Ballistic comparison test, you know.

        Forget the ordnance gel!

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Why 2 is 1 one is none!

    • itsmefool

      Some people will never learn this! Thats why you should have three of everything…one to carry, one for backup and one at the ‘smith!

  • mzungu

    Good reason to have it registered…. Hahahah

  • Ilike_waffles

    I had my truck broken into, and my beloved Winchester model 1200 was stolen. I was devastated because it belonged to my dear brother that had passed away the year before. It was the only item i had of his. About 4 months afterwards dallas P.D called me and said they had my shotgun, they stopped a guy and searched his vehicle and he had my shotgun in his trunk. Talk about a happy boy, i went to property room, got my shotgun and its been locked up in my safe ever since. It does happen, although rare and lots of luck and praying helps.

  • Fruitbat44

    Nice to hear about nice things happening.

  • Cymond

    My step father’s LCP was stolen. He bought another, and was surprised when the first one was eventually found and returned to him.

  • Denny Lynch

    I had a gun stolen in Colorado in 1977 and a month later the police arrested a man in Panama Beach ,Florida with it. I got it back in about two months time.

  • Mike

    I had a gun stolen. I was informed that It was recovered about a year later, took about 2 years to get the gun returned, case was dropped for some reason. Gun was returned by police with the serial numbers scratched over.

  • BR549

    I had my first 1911 stolen when my house in Oxford, MS was burglarized, it was recovered two years later in Chicago. It took me another two years (and a lot of phone calls) to get it back from the Chicago PD.

  • Vaughan

    I had a Randall Lemay .45 stolen from my car by a valet at a Houston Rockets game. A police Sargeant in Dallas called me 13 years later to tell me it was discovered for sale at a Dallas pawn shop. Got it back, it looked untouched. The pawn shop owner turned it over to me without charge. The police Sargeant told him to, or he would face charges of receiving stolen property.

  • JRCrum

    Had my 1991 stolen out of my car in ’92, got it back from LAPD in 2009!
    Rusted, well used, but still working. Still had the fingerprint dust all over it.
    Cleaned it up and it is now the pride of my collection.
    Strangely enough, they wouldn’t give me the original magazine that was still with it – more paperwork and approvals than anyone cared to deal with.

    • maodeedee

      A friend of mine had a Browning Hi-power confiscated from him by the LAPD and was never charged with a crime and it took a court order to get it back and then they claimed that it was “Lost” in the evidence room. There was the box that it was supposed to be in but a different gun (something cheap) somehow ended up in the box.

  • Took us 10 years to get a Hi Power back that was stolen and used in a theft/double murder.

  • Dave

    Mind if I ask a question? I used to own a Skydiving school and one time while I was away from the airport where I lived, someone stole several rifles and pistoles from me. Of all that were stolen, my Dad’s old M1 carbine from WW2 and Korea was the most important to me. It has been a lot of years but do you think there is anyway to recover them – or at least to search for them?

    • yu tube

      I would guess you need the serial number. State/local police should be able to search database for recovered firearms.

      • Dave

        Yeah, no joy for a serial number on the old M1 and looking through some papers I found (sorting through stuff after my last parent died in May) I found some stuff for my old gold trigger Marlin 336 from when I was a youngster. That was a long time ago. Pshew?

  • Donnie Buchanan

    I had a Colt Anaconda with an 8″ bbl stolen in Greenville, TN. It was recovered in a Gatlingburg, TN pawn shop about two months later. I got it back within three months and the thief got 12 years.

    • Herman Johnson

      Donnie, you’re a lucky fellow!

      From what I’ve seen in the legal system (and from my friends and relatives in law enforcement), the chance of recovering a stolen gun are in proportion to the cost and demand of the gun.

      In other words, you are LUCKY!

  • Mike Lashewitz

    Stolen yes! Got it back? NO! FBI had it Yes! FBI released it to the buyer of the stolen weapon. Purchased through a pawn shop. Claimed it was a “Straw Purchase” instead of admitting the FBI FAILED by allowing a 14 time convicted felon out once again. And guess what folks Chase Brian Phillips AKA Brian McManus is still out and committing the same crimes.

  • Mike

    Had a friend turn drug addict that stole a bunch of stuff including several rifles and a pistol..
    I reported them and figured that was the last I would hear, but about three days later they all turned up in a major drug bust. A drug dealer took them in trade and resold one, the buyer had the numbers run at the PD and when faced with arrest gave up the dealers he bought it from.. I got a few back at a time, since the stolen firearm was the evidence that got the police in the door they had to hang onto them until the convictions.. Not one of the guys went on trial, they just dragged it out until the day before the trial hoping for a better deal.. My understanding is that two of the four are out (and back in) and that two are in for another five years.

  • jim

    Here in Seattle an acquantance had his house robbed…they stole his SAFE and all of his guns…. had good information and a “ping” on his cell phone at a house down the street…cops did nothing. Still hasn’t gotten much help from LE and NO GUNS.

  • CountryBoy

    I purchased a gun that had been used in a crime – a Ruger P85. It did have an evidence ID scribed into it though the serial number was untouched.

    The seller was a fairly well-known dealer of recovered but unclaimed firearms, but I later heard that the LEOs he was dealing with later required him to re-sell the recovered guns only to those in the same state, so they could apparently keep closer tabs on the (my guess).

  • Andrew Foss

    *Reads the comments, opens a new tab to check Amazon’s current price for 3/4×10″ concrete drills and 3/4×6″ anchor bolts.*

    It costs you $40 and an hour of your time to bolt your safe to a concrete floor vs. replacement cost for your weapons and years of your time. I think the lessons are clear and manyfold: Make it difficult to steal your stuff because the legal system can be, to put it delicately, “unfriendly”.