Mandurah Police have joined stations across the state to crack down on illicit firearms as part of a multi-phased effort called Operation Bluesun.
The initiative aims to remove illicit firearms from the community while promoting the secure storage of licensed firearms.
Mandurah Police Station officer in charge Senior Sergeant Darren Hart said his team was proactively searching properties and issuing infringements as part of the operation.
He said gun owners who had “lapsed” in renewing their licences could face an infringement.
He said it didn’t stop at expired licences, cabinets that weren’t secured properly were also on officers’ radars.
Senior Sergeant Hart highlighted the public awareness the operation had given to gun owners as a major benefit of the campaign.
An Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report estimated there are 260,000 firearms on the national illicit market.
Regional West Australia Commander Jo McCabe said Bluesun was about police and the community working together to maintain the safety and security.
From January 2016 to July 2018 a total of 1317 firearms were reported stolen in WA – including 130 firearms stolen during a burglary at a Beckenham business.
Of that, 51 per cent of firearms stolen in that period were stolen in the Metropolitan region.
“Firearms incidents are unusual in Western Australia but there have been a number of recent events that have heightened our concerns,” Commander McCabe said.
Bluesun is about reducing opportunities for criminals to steal these weapons.Regional West Australia Commander Jo McCabe
“These incidents are frequently a result of criminals’ nefarious dealings with other criminals but there is always a risk that an innocent member of the public will be affected by firearm-related crimes. This is precisely why we have initiated Bluesun.”
Commander McCabe said further analysis of incidents between July and October revealed a high percentage of firearm thefts involved a breach of compliance on the part of the owner. The analysis showed:
- Since July 2018, there have been 52 firearm theft incidents during which 11 handguns and 128 rifles were stolen.
- 49 of these incidents occurred at residential premises.
- 33 of these incidents involved a compliance breach, for example, failing to secure a firearm.
- 10 people charged as a result of these inquiries.
As of late October there were more than 85,000 firearms license holders owning more than 328,000 firearms in WA.
“The overwhelming majority of firearm license holders are responsible and Bluesun is about reducing opportunities for criminals to steal these weapons”, Commander McCabe said.
Officers will also conduct investigations into stolen firearms, and members of the public can assist these inquiries by contacting Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or by visiting www.crimestopperswa.com.au.
“Firearms incidents are unusual in Western Australia but there have been a number of recent events that have heightened our concerns.Regional West Australia Commander Jo McCabe
“We also encourage members of the public to contact police if they have firearms they no longer require – our officers can assist with the disposal of these guns,” Commander McCabe said.
Of the incidents between July and October, 10 people have been charged and inquiries into other incidents are ongoing.
For more information on firearm storage click here.