2 Indicted On Charges After Theft Of Gun Store

NORTH MANCHESTER  –  Two men have been indicted on federal felony firearms charges in connection with a burglary of a Rochester gun store on Nov. 20.
Police allege Robert Hoy, 21, North Manchester, and Jose Rogelio Vera-Diaz, also known as Rogelio Diaz, 21,  Mexico, broke into Sand Burr Gun Ranch and stole 57 handguns valued at more than  $40,000, according to court records.
Diaz pried the front door, while Hoy served as “lookout” and they went in and took the guns, court records state.
The gun shop did not have audio or video surveillance.
Both have been charged in U.S. District Court for Northern District of Indiana with a felony count of stealing firearms from a Federal Firearms Licensee.
Investigators were led to Hoy and Diaz after a traffic stop and Facebook  messages where the men hatched the plot.
On Dec 8., a North Manchester  police officer discovered one of the stolen guns while searching James Owsley’s car for drugs during a traffic stop. Police matched the gun to the store by tracking the serial number.
Owsley pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a serious and violent felon and is currently serving five years in the Indiana Department of Corrections.
An unnamed female passenger with Owsley also was arrested.
Owsley and the woman spoke with investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives while in the Wabash County Jail. They told police they had received the guns from a man named Charles Hammer, 30, North Manchester.
Police tracked down Hammer in the Allegan County, Mich., jail where he spoke with an ATF officer.
Hammer told the officer he works on guns as a hobby and received the gun from Hoy, who he knew through  Facebook and around town, court records state.
Hammer told police he had received the gun from Hoy and fixed the ejection spring. Hoy told Hammer to sell the gun, court records state.
Hammer told the ATF agent that Hoy had never told them where he got the gun and had freaked out when he saw news reports of the burglary. Hammer said he thought Hoy kept a newspaper article about the robbery in his vehicle, court records state.
Hammer also was indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
After Hammer identified a photograph of Hoy, investigators issued a search warrant for records of Hoy and Hammer’s Facebook accounts.
Police allege that Hoy and Diaz messaged each other hours before the robbery. Diaz would ask questions like “we doing this bro?” and if they had enough people to do the job.
Police contend Hoy agreed to pick Diaz up.
Investigators interviewed Hoy, who admitted he participated in the robbery, court records said.
Another man, Mason France, 19, Winona Lake, was indicted in federal court in connection with the stolen guns.
Police allege France received some the stolen guns and then sold them to others, including a juvenile.
France is facing federal charges, including one count of possession of stolen firearms, one count of possession of a firearm while under felony Information and one count of selling a firearm to a juvenile.
Law enforcement officials said they could not say exactly how many guns have been recovered.
On Jan. 21, North Manchester officers found one of the handguns in connection with a intimidation investigation.
North Manchester Police and Indiana Conservation Officers searched an area in the Eel River and found five of the stolen guns, North Manchester Police Chief Jim Kirk said.
Kirk said some of the guns had been found as far as Chicago.
All the major suspects have been arrested, he said.
Dennis Reichard, co-owner of the Sand Burr Gun Ranch, said that the store has struggled to recover from the robbery.
“This is my retirement, and they walked out the door with it,”  he said.
Reichard is a retried Rochester police officer.
Reichard said the store wasn’t insured because he couldnt afford it, but says he’ll keep the store running as long he can,
“I’m still here,” he said.