LOST & LOADED
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.”