Thefts trigger guns check

Tim EdmundsGreat Southern Herald
Firearms seized by police after burglaries near Narrogin.
Camera IconFirearms seized by police after burglaries near Narrogin.

Firearm holders in the Great Southern will be targeted by police next month after 66 guns were stolen from rural properties so far this year.

Police have again been faced with a concerning trend of fire-arm theft with 19 burglaries on the isolated farming proper-ties and a high number of guns falling into the hands of criminals through poor security.

Great Southern Police District Acting Senior Sergeant Mike Russell said police would adopt a no-tolerance approach to firearm security as a result of the number of weapons being stolen, with a crackdown on the region’s licensed firearm holders.

He said police would launch Operation Obatala next month which would give firearm holders 28 days notice to properly secure their weapons before random gun cabinet inspections would start.

In 2014, Operation Celebrity involved the random inspection of 820 firearm cabinets and about 250 firearms surrendered.

“People are still not getting the message so we are going to repeat the operation,” Acting Sen. Sgt Russell said.

He said police across the district were alarmed at an increasing number of guns being stolen from cabinets that were either being cut open by power tools left nearby or the key was also in sight.

“Ultimately they make their way into the hands of criminals and are either sold for cash or to settle drug debts so there is a concern for the public there,” Acting Sen. Sgt Russell said.

“We have noticed there has been a certain criminal element out there who realise there are farms out there which aren’t manned 24 hours.”

As well as a letter from police outlining their intention of random inspections, police have also encouraged farmers to install CCTV or covert cameras to help catch gun thieves.

Police urge anyone with information about unlicensed firearm holders or suspicious activity in the region to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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