There are countless stories of bombs and grenades discovered in veterans’ belongings. Kids going through Grandpa’s things and uncovering an unexpectedly dangerous find. Then there’s an apparent loophole that allows convicted criminals to purchase antique firearms, which are seen as collector items rather than modern weapons. But some of the stories go beyond the norm and a few steps further…and ultimately, the perpetrators are caught.
Take a look at these unbelievably true tales of modern folks using antique weapons
1. A unique business plan
Being an arms dealer sounds like a risky job in and of itself. However, one man tried to further create a layer of safety for himself, not through legal means, but by selling his customers antique weapons. In 2017, a 66-year-old in the UK was linked to more than 100 crime scenes, including an attack on a police helicopter.
The firearms supplier had been funneling 19th-century guns from the U.S., France and Russia, under the guise of selling to collectors. He then fashioned his own bullets to outfit the guns. In addition, he lied about the ages of certain guns, claiming they were more than 50 years older than their press date, to classify them as antiques. More than 100,000 rounds of ammo were found when he was arrested.
2. A bomb… ahem, there
In 2022, a hospital in France had an emergency that almost sounded too crazy to be true. An 88-year-old showed up to the emergency room with an ailment doctors have yet to see repeated. There was a World War I artillery shell inside of his rectum. The Toulon, France, hospital was evacuated as artillery experts were called to the scene.
The shell was said to be about two inches wide and eight inches long. With the guidance of the explosive experts, doctors were able to remove the device and repair the patient’s injuries. The WWI weapon was then confiscated for safe disposal.
3. 17th-century cannons sold to the highest bidder
It’s no secret that weapons collectors will pay big bucks for rare items, and when a diver off the coast of Great Britain found a treasure trove, he was banking on it. Three 17th-century bronze cannons were obtained by Vincent Woolsgrove, a professional diver. While he returned two to the country, he claimed that the third was found in international waters.
Woolsgrove received around $83,000 (adjusted from 2013 dollars) when he sold to an American collector.
Investigators spent two years proving that the cannons came from the HMS London, a ship located near Southend in Essex since it went down in 1665. Woolsgrove was sentenced to two years in jail for failing to report the find. Experts say the cannons are one of few left in existence. The cannon was never confiscated.
“Extensive Dutch records” showed that the cannon was crafted in Amsterdam with the job of arming the town. Later, they were added to Dutch ships when they fought England
4. Antique guns, modern bullets
Finally, there’s the duo who decided to alter antique guns in order to make them more dangerous. In the UK, two men were arrested in 2016 when a sting proved they had been adapting old guns to fire hollow-point bullets.
After gun violence had been growing in South Yorkshire, police sourced out a number of modified guns, which were traced back to Anthony McIntyre and Shaun May. The pair outfitted at least seven guns, three of which were never found. They were each sentenced to 14 years in jail.