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Monday, May 2, 2016

NY couple recalls 1974 theft after gun recovered

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bob and Elaine Bachorski had vague memories of the 1974 burglary of their store, The Stafford Trading Post. That is until one of the stolen guns was recovered last week in Indiana and the memories came flooding back. Daily News/ROCCO LAURIENZO
STAFFORD, N.Y. -- Bob Bachorski remembered when his wife called him one morning in June 1974 to ask him what he did with all the handguns.

The couple owned Stafford Trading Post, a general store that sold guns.

Elaine Bachorski opened the store on June 17, 1974 and about noon noticed something amiss.

Her husband was working at his other business, a small construction company.

"She called and asked me what I did with all the handguns. She walked into the store and saw the cases were empty," he said Thursday. "I told her I didn't do anything with them. They were stolen."

The Bachorskis, according to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office complaint report taken on that day in 1974, had just received a shipment of 26 revolvers. The guns were kept in a glass case with wood doors with slip-locks on them.

The locks, according to the deputy sent to that store, "had been removed and knocked to the floor."

About 30 boxes of ammunition also were stolen and further investigation revealed the thieves entered the store by prying open a window that led to the U.S. Post Office, which was on the east side of the Trading Post building.

The Bachorskis opened Stafford Trading Post in 1968 and had never had a break-in.

They had no insurance for the guns, many of which hadn't even been paid off yet.

Throughout the next two decades a few of the stolen guns were returned.

The Bachorskis sold the store in 1999 and for several years sold guns and outdoor supplies at their home.

Now they sell produce, grown behind the house and sold at a roadside stand.

The stolen guns had long ago left their minds until a few weeks ago when the woman who now runs a store on the site of the Trading Post visited Bob Bachorski, who was in the hospital at the time.

"She came in and told me they found one of the guns," he said.

The details of the lost gun were printed in the Banner Graphic Aug. 29 and reprinted with permission by The Daily News of Batavia, N.Y. on Aug. 30.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department found one of the guns after responding to a report of a man firing a gun inside his home in Reelsville Aug. 27. The man surrendered without incident and when police ran the serial number of the gun, they discovered it was stolen from the Trading Post in 1974.

"It's unbelievable," Bachorski said. "I never expected that."

How the gun got to Indiana is unknown and likely will never be known.

"I'd love to know where that gun has been," Elaine Bachorski said.

Even the man who owned the gun last week didn't know. He told police he received the gun as a birthday present but could not remember who gave it to him.

"I laughed at that," she said. "How could you not know?"

The Bachorskis at the time of the theft suspected the guns were stolen by carnival workers. The Stafford Carnival was open and the store was busy.

"While we were checking the premises," Deputy R.K. Smart wrote in his 1974 report, "the complainant told me that several carnival workers had been in and out of the store four or five times a day looking at the guns. None of these men possessed a pistol permit and therefore, didn't purchase any."

Bachorski told the deputy he figured the men came back at night and stole them.

The theft happened sometime after 7 p.m. June 16 and before 8 a.m. June 17.

Bachorski remembered the gun recovered in Indiana. It's a High Standard Double Nine .22-caliber revolver, unusual at the time because it was a nine-shot revolver rather than the standard six-shot.

"It was brand new," he recalled. "It was a nice gun worth about $150, which was a lot then."

The Bachorskis recall feeling violated at the time.

"It's quite a feeling of being let down," he said. "It takes the wind out of your sails and it's unfortunate."

But, he said, he still believes in people.

"I still believe 99 percent of the people are honest," he said. "People ask me how I can have a farm stand and trust people to leave the money. I still have faith in people."

The Bachorskis expect to have the revolver returned to them. Genesee County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster said he was told the gun was "in the mail" and will be returned to the Bachorskis soon.

"I'll put it away," Bachorski said. "I don't have a lot of guns left anymore but I'll put it away and pass it down to my kids."

Scott DeSmit is a staff writer for The Daily News in Batavia, N.Y. Story is reprinted with permission.

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