LOST & LOADED

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS MCMA­HON chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

MORE than one gun a week is be­ing stolen in Townsville, with many of the weapons later used to com­mit crimes.

A to­tal of 56 firearms were stolen in the Townsville re­gion in the past year and fewer than half have been re­cov­ered.

Of the 56 guns stolen be­tween June 1, 2014, and May 31, 2015, only 19 have been found by po­lice, with the other 37 still re­main­ing in the hands of crooks.

Dur­ing that pe­riod, more than 100 of­fences in­volv­ing a weapon were com­mit­ted in the city, in­clud­ing five life- en­dan­ger- ing acts, three as­saults and 42 drug of­fences.

But the real num­ber of stolen weapons in the re­gion could be a lot higher, with many peo­ple fail­ing to re­port miss­ing firearms if they are un­reg­is­tered.

Townsville CIB of­fi­cerin- charge de­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Chris Hicks said find­ing stolen guns was dif­fi­cult for po­lice.

“That’s our job, to get any un­law­ful firearms off the street and out of the arms of peo­ple who shouldn’t have them,” Sen- Sgt Hicks said.

“It’s pretty hard to track them down.

“If we have weapons that are stolen, they are gen­er­ally from a break and en­ter or a prop­er­tyre­lated of­fence.

“If we think a prop­erty- re­lated of­fender is look­ing good for the job, then we ob­vi­ously tar­get those re­cidi­vist of­fend­ers in the hope they haven’t off­loaded the weapons in the mean­time,” Sen- Sgt Hicks said.

North­ern Re­gion Act­ing Com­mis­sioner Paul Tay­lor said hav­ing one stolen gun in the hands of crim­i­nals was too many.

“History has shown us that firearms in the hands of the wrong per­son can have dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences,” Mr Tay­lor said.

“We know there are in­di­vid­u­als in the com­mu­nity who shouldn’t pos­sess firearms, so we are very keen to make sure there is no one out there with illegal firearms.”

Sen- Sgt Hicks said po­lice ac­tively sought out stolen guns, but most were found in the course of duty or from tip- offs from the public.

“A lot of it comes down to po­lice do­ing po­lice work, turn­ing over cars – just po­lice do­ing their job, that’s how we come across a lot of the stolen weapons, just in the course of our nor­mal du­ties,” he said.

“If any­one comes across a firearm or knows of any­one who has firearms … they are not sup­posed to, they can ring Crime Stop­pers and we will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.”

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