A pickup truck found burning in a District alley is believed to be the vehicle used by a burglar as a battering ram to break into a Manassas gun store on Memorial Day, law enforcement officials said yesterday.
A passerby noticed the white 1999 Ford pickup truck on fire in an alley near Third Street NE later that night and called the fire department, officials said. It was not until yesterday that someone who had seen the burned truck realized that it might be the one Manassas police were looking for and had shown in the media, they said.
Officials in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked down the truck's owner, who lives out of state, and are trying to determine whether he has an alibi for the burglary, said Sgt. Bill Goodman, a Manassas City police spokesman.
"Depending on where he was, and the distance he would have to travel . . . either eliminates him as a suspect or includes him as a suspect," Goodman said. "He can't be at two places at one time."
The burglary at Virginia Arms Co. was captured on videotape by a surveillance camera. The videotape shows the burglar driving the truck -- bed first -- through the glass storefront. He can then be seen using a long, blunt object to smash a display case of guns and selecting three handguns worth $1,750.
The store's alarm company alerted Manassas City police at 4:29 a.m. Monday, and police arrived in minutes, police said. But according to the videotape, the unusual break-in was over in 20 seconds, and the burglar had already made his getaway. He left tire tracks in the gray carpet.
Dan Woloszynowski, a spokesman for the ATF, said both the truck found in the District about 9:45 p.m. Monday and the one involved in the burglary carried the same silver storage box in the truck bed. The stolen guns have not been recovered.
Manassas City police Detective E.C. Rivera said that police obtained "interesting pieces" of evidence from the truck at the store and that authorities have the license plate number. He added that the probably was set on fire because the thief was trying to destroy evidence.
"We're putting the pieces together, and an arrest is imminent," Rivera said.
Staff writer Allan Lengel contributed to this report.