EARLIER this week you would have seen that we are concerned about the amount of illegal firearms in the community.
We are not being alarmist here; the fact is that there are a number of firearms in the wrong hands.
Some of the reason for this is a concerning trend around firearm theft from rural properties.
Some of these stolen firearms then find their way to criminals connected to the drug trade and organised crime, including being used to pay for drugs or other items.
We have one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the state, and with this recent spate of thefts from rural properties, I am urging owners take all reasonable precautions to ensure that firearms are kept safe by complying with legislated storage requirements.
Securing firearms out of sight may help prevent removal; however, where thieves have time to look around, it is important that property owners step up theft prevention measures by locking homes and sheds to avoid becoming a target.
Rural properties can be easy targets for burglars and so we need to be extra vigilant that firearms do not come into the possession of unauthorised persons.
Rural properties are at greater risk because of a number of factors, including slack storage practices.
The biggest issue facing Victoria Police in this area is that of complacency – people just are not taking enough care to secure their firearms.
How can we prevent our firearms being lost or stolen?
The answer is a simple one – lock them up.
It is a requirement that if you own guns you must store them securely in a locked gun cabinet when not being used, and the ammunition must also be locked away in a separate cabinet.
There are specific storage requirements for each category of firearm licence – you should know what they are.
If you don’t know the requirements, please visit our website www.police.vic.gov.au (Our Services – Firearms).
Leaving them under your workbench in the shed, under your bed, at the back of the wardrobe, or under the seat of the ute is not locking up your firearm.
We have just begun stepping up our random inspections and audits of licensed firearms holders, so expect a visit if you haven’t had one already.
We will be checking your storage and seeing if there are any breaches.
If you do not comply you risk being fined, or even losing your licence and guns.
If you have any queries at all regarding the ownership or use of firearms and ammunition, please call your local police station for advice.
If you have any information about stolen firearms or firearms not being stored correctly, please contact your local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
If you have a firearm stolen, you must report it as soon as possible.
Timely reporting of firearm thefts is also important so the information can be investigated by police as soon as possible.