WA Police crackdown on firearm theft sees gun owners charged with failing to secure weapons
A number of licensed West Australian gun owners are hiding their weapons in cars, back sheds and even under mattresses according to police tasked with cracking down on firearm theft.
- 185 gun owners were charged after failing to secure their weapons safely
- Police have blamed ignorance of firearm laws and complacency
- Firearm inspections will be carried out regularly around Perth and regional WA
More than 400 firearms and 30,000 rounds of ammunition have been seized as part of a six-week operation that saw checks performed at almost 3,000 properties throughout Perth and regional WA.
The Commander of Operation Bluesun, which was launched in November, said on a number of occasions it took a visit from officers for gun owners to realise they had already been targeted by thieves.
A total of 26 guns were reported stolen.
“Disturbingly, what we found during the operation was a number of inspections identified lost or stolen firearms,” Commander Jo McCabe said.
“There was one particular premises that we visited and the firearm licence holder had not opened his gun safe for 45 years.
“Any firearm that we don’t know where it is, is very concerning for the community.
“So we also encourage people that if they are not using their firearms and they don’t need their firearms to contact their local police and think about relinquishing them.”
Operation Bluesun Commander Jo McCabe says the number of firearm inspections will be stepped up. (ABC News: Charlotte Hamlyn)
Guns stored in all sorts of places
Guns that were not safely or securely stored were seized and 185 owners were charged with non-compliance offences.
“The majority of people were just ignorant to the Firearms Act and laws, and a bit complacent in terms of the firearm security,” Commander McCabe said.
“We found the firearms cabinets themselves weren’t compliant with the Firearms Act — it wasn’t secured properly to the wall, the keys were left lying around, we had firearms found in vehicles, under mattresses and in back sheds.
“But there were no firearms licence holders that we found that were using the firearms illegally.”
Police said there had been 52 incidents of firearm theft in WA in the past six months. (Supplied: WA Police)
Police said as a result of the operation, they were planning to step up the number of inspections carried out by frontline officers to ensure firearms were not getting in the hands of people who were not licensed to carry them.
“Instead of running an operation, what we will be doing now is ensuring that our officers, on a day-to-day basis, continue this work,” Commander McCabe said.
“We’ll ensure that we’re doing that much more regularly than we currently are.”