Gun thieves hunted

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

PO­LICE are anx­ious to find a horde of high spec­i­fi­ca­tion firearms stolen dur­ing a gun store break-in.

Gun City’s Auck­land shop and ware­house on Carr Rd, Mt Roskill, was bur­gled into just be­fore 10pm on Tues­day.

The store is part of a chain that is the coun­try’s big­gest firearms dealer.

Twenty five weapons in­clud­ing six 12 gauge shot­guns, seven Tikka bolt ac­tion ri­fles with si­lencers and scopes, and eight 12 gauge Beretta semi-au­to­matic shot­guns are miss­ing.

‘‘I am con­cerned that th­ese weapons have been stolen in the first place and, more­over, that they could be traded amongst more crim­i­nals,’’ Auck­land City west area com­man­der In­spec­tor Jac­qui Whit­taker says.

‘‘Clearly the firearms are al­ready in the wrong hands and we are work­ing hard to track down the of­fend­ers and guns.’’

The in­trud­ers ap­pear to have en­tered by forc­ing a wooden door open.

Po­lice say the shop’s se­cu­rity was not as ro­bust as it could have been and it ap­pears the bur­glars knew what they were look­ing for.

Gun city di­rec­tor David Tip­ple de­fends the store’s se­cu­rity.

‘‘The 25 firearms stolen in the raid are iden­ti­fied by brand, se­rial num­ber, and bar­code.

‘‘The guns were se­cured in locked racks, which suc­cess­fully pre­vented the theft of 98 per cent of the store’s firearms,’’ he says.

Gun City has been in Mt Roskill for years and this is the first time it has been tar­geted.

Puke­ta­papa Lo­cal Board mem­ber Nigel Turn­bull says the shop has kept a fairly low pro­file and he only be­came aware of it re­cently.

‘‘I’m sure if any­one had a prob­lem I would have had an email by now,’’ he says.

But its owner, Mr Tip­ple, is some­what con­tro­ver­sial.

In 1992, he was ac­quit­ted of shoot­ing and wound­ing three bur­glars who ran from his farm shed af­ter try­ing to steal mo­tor­cy­cles.

In 2002 and 2003 he spent 21 months in prison in the United States for gun of­fences. He was ar­rested at Los An­ge­les air­port af­ter US Cus­toms of­fi­cials found 29 guns in his bag­gage. He was also trav­el­ling with 340 rounds of live am­mu­ni­tion.

Mr Tip­ple was con­victed of fail­ing to no­tify his air­line in writ­ing about the guns and sen­tenced to a year in a New Mex­ico jail.

A week be­fore he was due to be re­leased Mr Tip­ple was ex­tra­dited to Ge­or­gia where he was held for nine months over charges of il­le­gally buy­ing 363 guns, in­clud­ing ri­fles, shot­guns and pis­tols.

The charges were even­tu­ally dropped and he was al­lowed to re­turn to New Zealand.

In 2008 he was dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for eight months and fined af­ter a late-night high-speed pur­suit with Christchurch po­lice.

Ms Whit­taker is urg­ing any­one who is of­fered a pow­er­ful weapon at a dis­count price to call them. She says peo­ple who own or trade firearms need to be li­censed, and it is im­por­tant that if the weapons ap­pear for sale on­line or on the black mar­ket, po­lice are no­ti­fied.

Pho­tos: JA­SON OXENHAM

En­try point: In­trud­ers ap­pear to have en­tered Gun City by forc­ing open a wooden door. Heist: Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a break-in at Gun City where 25 firearms were taken.

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