OPELIKA, Ala (WRBL) – A ten-thousand-dollar AR rifle stolen from a vehicle parked outside an Opelika restaurant has been recovered along with several other stolen weapons. Investigators are urging gun owners to secure their weapons before they end up in the hands of a criminal on the scene of a violent crime.

On May 3, Opelika Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant in the 1200 block of Lee Road 40. The search warrant stemmed from an investigation of several Unlawful Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle cases in Opelika. Three suspects were arrested.

“We recovered a short barrel rifle with a ten-inch barrel, had a fancy scope on it that costs a thousand dollars, a sawed-off shotgun and a couple of pistols, one had an extended magazine that holds 40 rounds. That AR cost approximately $10,000, you have to have a special stamp to have it because of the short barrel, and it had a silencer and really nice scope,” said Captain Johnathan Clifton.

-Melvin James Maddox Jr., from Salem, AL, is charged with two counts of Unlawful Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle and two counts of Theft of Property, First Degree.

-Jacquel Deshawn Woods, 23, from Opelika, AL, is charged with two counts of Unlawful Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle and two counts of Theft of Property, First Degree.

-Jaderrian Tyquon Prince, 24, from Salem, AL, is charged with Receiving Stolen Property, First Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute Narcotics, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Short Barreled Rifle, and Possession of Marijuana, First Degree.

“This is a problem for Opelika. From April 2020 to April 2021, we had 56 cars broken into where guns were stolen. Fifty-six guns were stolen. Every agency has this issue of stolen guns being used in violent crime scenes,” said Captain Clifton.

Captain Clifton says keeping stolen guns out of the hands of criminals starts with the legal, law-abiding gun owner securing their firearms. That means not leaving it in a vehicle. If you leave it in a car, you are urged to secure it as best as possible by locking your doors. Captain Clifton says most guns are stolen from unlocked cars, and thieves are checking for open doors to get in and get out as soon as possible. Often if your door is locked, they will move on to another vehicle.

“I have recovered several stolen guns from shooting scenes and several other crime scenes. A lot of times, we arrest a defendant in a violent offense; they are in possession of a stolen gun,” said Clifton.

Finally, when your weapon is inside your home, please keep it away from kids in a secure location with a lock, separate from your ammunition.

If your weapon is stolen, notify your local law enforcement agency immediately and make sure you have a picture of the gun and serial number recorded.

If you have any information on stolen guns in the area, please contact the Opelika Police Department Detective Division at (334) 705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at (334) 745-8665. You may wish to remain anonymous.