Firearms owners are being encouraged to ensure they have adequate storage with the WA Police Force announcing Operation Bluesun to tackle the ongoing issue of illicit firearms in the community.
Bluesun will be a multi-phased effort to remove illicit firearms from the community while also promoting the secure storage of licensed firearms.
Regional WA Commander Jo McCabe said the operation is about police and the community working together to maintain safety and security.
“Firearms incidents are unusual in Western Australia but there have been a number of recent events that have heightened our concern,” he said.
“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.”
An Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report estimated there are 260,000 firearms on the national illicit market.
Toodyay Police officer in charge Warren Conder said other increased trends in the town have been stock and firearm theft.
“Both type thefts present additional challenges to police as most stock and firearms are stolen from remote farming properties during the hours of darkness,” Sergeant Coder said.
“Increased patrolling, CCTV installation, targeting vehicles for consignment checks and public awareness has assisted in reducing it locally here in Toodyay, however the problem is wide spread across the state.
“Firearm theft is the most concerning as this present a real risk to the community.
“The majority of firearms stolen end up with organised crime groups and more than often used to assist in other criminal activities.
“Many firearm holders fail to secure their weapons correctly, adding to the problem.”
Sergeant Coder said Toodyay Police have worked over the past four years to decrease this problem in the community.
“In 2014 Toodyay Police conducted over 50 unannounced firearm inspections visits of its 800 plus registered holders within the sub-district,” he said.
“This resulted in approximately 15 charges put before court that year.
“In 2018 we recommenced unannounced checks and to date we have charged several more firearm holders in breach of the Act.
“We constantly provided public awareness on these issues in an effort to raise local vigilance and improved security.
“I can confirm Toodyay has a low recorded crime of stock and firearm theft and I consider our work locally here at Toodyay Police has contributed to this decrease.”
From January 2016 to July 2018 a total of 1317 firearms were reported stolen in WA.
“For example, thefts between July and October include incidents where the owner has failed to secure their firearms as they are required to under WA legislation,” Commander McCabe said.
“This makes many of these thefts preventable. We are working with firearms groups and owners to ensure compliance and reduce the incidence of opportunistic firearm thefts in our community.
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.
As part of Bluesun, selected firearms license holders and gun owners will be contacted by police to arrange a time for inspection and provided with general information on the standard of security required.
Further, officers will be delivering infringements to people who have allowed their firearms license to lapse.
Officers will also conduct inspections of firearms storage linked to these people.
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.