Gun thieves find cases easy pickings

Last updated 05:00 04/04/2014

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Wooden gun cases are no longer an effective deterrent to thieves on the hunt for firearms, after eight weapons were stolen from a Coromandel home, police say.

The burglary has sparked a reminder for gun owners to review their security and update it if necessary.

Waikato Police District arms officer, Richard Plas, said eight firearms of various make were taken from an Opoutere home recently.

"This wasn't a case of the firearms being kept unsecured," he said.

"They were locked into a wooden gun cabinet which had been approved in 2006. However, as time goes by, it has become increasingly obvious to police that wooden gun cabinets are not always that effective in defeating thieves."

The arsenal included: a wooden, cut down sporting stock .303 rifle, a 12-gauge side-by-side shotgun with side-hammers more than 100 years old; a wooden stock 20 gauge single barrel shotgun; and a .22 calibre bolt-action rifle with a black plastic stock, 10 shot magazine, laser and telescopic sight.

Plas said the price of metal gun cabinets had fallen over recent years.

"Police are asking gun owners to consider upgrading their security to steel gun safes bolted in place.

"It's not just about protecting your investments but also about keeping the community safe."

He said security measures should be able to defeat an attack by thieves with common hand-tools such as hammers, screwdrivers or crowbars for a period of up to 10 minutes.

"If you own firearms and think that your security might not be strong enough, do something about it."

This can include installing extra locks, an alarm system or installing a steel gun safe.

He also urged firearms owners to record photos and serial numbers of their firearms on property databases such as that available on the SNAP website, (www.snap.org.nz). It is a legal requirement to advise police of any stolen firearms, and it is also a legal requirement to advise police of a gun owner's change of address.

"All too often, guns are stolen from gun-owners who haven't notified a change of address and consequently kept their firearms in sub-standard security. With police increasingly finding offenders involved in the illicit drugs trade arming themselves with illegally obtained firearms, owners need to realise establishing origins of recovered weapons becomes a matter of priority for our investigators." 

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- Waikato Times

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