An alarming spike in the rate of firearm and ammunition thefts in the Great Southern over the past six months has left police concerned lethal weapons could be stockpiling in criminal hands.
A total of 35 guns have been stolen in seven burglaries committed in Porongurup, Albany, Cranbrook, Rocky Gully, Jackitup and Katanning, from both farming and residential properties.
Some of the weapons have been recovered by police as far away as Perth, including three rifles, and a loaded semi-automatic Italian-made Tanfoglio handgun complete with a highly accurate laser scope was located in Albany.
Albany Acting Detective Sergeant Carl Fjastad said he believed guns were being specifically targeted by thieves and would not be surprised if stolen guns were later sold for cash or drugs.
“Unfortunately drugs and guns seem to go hand in hand when it comes to the criminal fraternity,” he said.
Katanning Senior Sergeant Peter Hayes said police were currently enquiring about a single .22 calibre rifle disappearance in town, which was reported missing last November and is yet to be located.
“The owner opened the cabinet and found one of five guns to be missing and the key in the lock but it is unsure whether a family member may have taken it and simply not returned it,” he said.
Det. Sgt. Fjastad said police suspected the guns were in many cases destined either for the black market or criminal purposes.
Some of the stolen weapons were unsecured, prompting police to remind owners their firearms can be easily confiscated if they don’t comply with firearms regulations.
WA law requires any firearm to be stored in a correctly fitted and secured gun safe when not in use by its owner.