Teen Arrested for Gun Shop Burglary, 34 Stolen Guns Recovered


A 16-year-old Palm Coast resident was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly breaking into a robbing a gun store, taking over three dozen firearms. He was booked into the Flagler County Jail and charged with armed burglary and grand theft over $20,000 at the end of a police investigation that spanned two months.

The incident in question happened back on the morning of March 27th, when deputies received a call from an employee of Pioneer Guns & Ammo, a gun shop on US-1 in Bunnell. The employee showed deputies with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office surveillance footage depicting a suspect breaking a glass door and sliding between metal bars to enter the store and then breaking into a display case. Two long guns and several handguns were stolen in the burglary, all directly from Pioneer's sales inventory.

Dale Mesagaes’ mugshot.
Dale Mesagaes’ mugshot.

A multi-departmental investigation team was formed to track down the perpetrator, involving personnel from the Real Time Crime Center, Crime Scene Investigation, Digital Forensics Team, and detectives. A vehicle was identified as likely being the suspect's, and the CSI investigators were able to recover blood from the crime scene to help with DNA work. The perpetrator apparently cut themselves in the process of breaking in.

Through their investigation detectives identified 16-year-old Dale Mesagaes as their suspect, and contacted his mother to question her about the crime. On April 23rd, the mother reported that she'd found the stolen guns, apparently placed into a bag and buried in the ground. 34 of the reported 37 stolen guns were admitted into evidence, and later confirmed to be the ones missing from Pioneer Guns & Ammo.

To build the last bit of evidence needed to arrest Mesagaes, a detecitve with the Digital Forensics Team found text messages on his phone which apparently tied him to the crime. Later on, his blood was DNA-matched with the blood at the scene. An arrest warrant was issued and Mesagaes was arrested on one charge each of armed burglary and grand theft over $20,000 in value causing over $1,000 in damage. He was booked into the county jail before being transferred to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

“Our investigators, CSI, and RTCC teams worked hard to get these guns off the street before they could be used in violent crimes,” said Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly of the investigation. “This kid learned the hard way that this was a very bad decision. Because of the dangerous potential of his crime, I hope the State Attorney will charge him as an adult and hold him accountable.”

Footage of the break-in and arrest were provided by the FCSO: