Police are urging community members to take more care in storing their firearms after a rise in firearm thefts across western Victoria.
In the past six months, firearm theft has proven to be a “significant” issue in Victoria Police’s western divisions, including the Central Goldfields Police Service Area (PSA).
Goldfields Crime Investigation Unit Detective Senior Constable Scott De La Rue said there have been several thefts in the region, with 13 firearms stolen in the most recent incident.
“There has certainly been an increase in firearm theft recently,” he said.
“It’s an item that’s in extremely high demand, so perpetrators can get a lot more than the actual value of a firearm on the black market.
“The increase means there’s more availability of stolen firearms to be in the wrong hands and they’re obviously not being stolen for legitimate purposes.”
Det Sen Con De La Rue said areas with a high number of rural properties, such as Central Gold- fields, are “specifically targeted” and once firearms are stolen they often become involved in crime.
“Offenders target rural properties, particularly sheds, in an attempt to find firearms and then once they’re stolen, they very quickly get circulated through drug trafficking rings,” he said.
“They generally go to a dealer who will then move them to Melbourne and from Melbourne, through more organised crime, they get distributed throughout Victoria and beyond.”
Det Sen Con De La Rue said offenders generally case properties before a theft.
“Offenders might use motorbikes and ride through properties, or pretend to go prospecting to see if they’re occupied or if anyone confronts them,” he said.
For more on this story see Page 3 of The Advertiser, Tuesday, June 11