Police say gun owners with multiple firearms may be a target for "certain groups", after an increase in firearm theft over the past five months.
Divisional firearms officer Todd Deary said more guns were being stolen from rural properties in his area, stretching from Echuca to Gisborne, across to St Arnaud and Kyabram.
Those stealing firearms were generally going to use them in firearm related crime, Leading Senior Constable Deary said.
Read more: Firearm offences rise in Victoria
"People would steal firearms because they are probably people who cannot obtain them legally ... The way they become prohibited is they commit serious crimes in the past, so the only way they can have an illegal firearm is by obtaining it illegally," he said.
"If you're going to obtain a firearm illegally, the type of people that do that aren't going to be going out shooting rabbits and foxes, they're going to be using them in firearm related crimes.
"People may go to a rural property knowing the people aren't home, and come across them and decide to take them there and then. More organised groups will definitely target firearms license holders that they know have multiple firearms."
Firearms theft was sometimes opportunistic, and sometimes organised, Leading Senior Constable Deary said. The risk posed by these stolen weapons was often against other criminal groups, rather than members of the public, he said.
To avoid theft gun owners should make sure they have a secure firearm storage system, which is a quality gun safe, Leading Senior Constable Deary said.
Not storing firearms property was an offence, which could lead to a loss of firearms licence, he said.
Rural properties should consider alarming their safes, with the system linked to mobile phone alerts for when they are away, he said.
Safe gun storage in rural areas around Bendigo was much better than it used to be, Leading Senior Constable Deary said.
"Years ago every farmer would have a loaded firearm within reach, just for snakes and all that sort of thing, hanging around the house in rural areas, but firearm safety, especially amongst the younger farmers is far better than it used to be," he said.
"We go round and do random inspections in relation to their storage facilities, and it's not often that you find someone that's not complying."
A report released this week showed an increase in people sentenced for firearms offences in Victoria.
There was a 34 percent increase of firearms offences sentenced between 2012-2013 and 2016-2017, according to the report from the Sentencing Advisory Council.
Leading Senior Constable Deary said he could not say whether there had been an increase in firearms offences committed in the division.
Crime Statistics Agency figures show an increase in firearms offences in the 3550 postcode in the past 10 years. In 2009 there were five firearms offences committed in the postcode. In 2018 there were 30, the highest number since 2009.
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