Massive gun cache stolen in Auckland

By Derek Cheng

Photo / File
Photo / File

A gun collector whose impressive stash of weapons - including semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and vintage guns - were stolen from his Auckland house yesterday, could have been targeted by the burglars, police say.

Along with the guns, which were stored in a locked room, about 5000 rounds of ammunition were also taken.

The thieves broke into the home, on Waller Avenue in Bucklands Beach, some time between 9am and 5.30pm through the rear ranch slider, police said.

Counties Manukau East investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Darrell Harpur told reporters today there was also other property, including jewellery, silverware and alcohol taken.

"Of concern is the firearms in the community - obviously they are in the hands of criminals and we will be putting every ounce of effort and resource into recovering those firearms and removing them from the hands of criminals."

The owner was a licensed firearms holder who may have been targeted by the thieves, Mr Harpur said.

"It's a reasonably remote area of the peninsula, with one road in. It's not usually a high burglary area."

The owner was allowed to collect as many guns as he wished, so long as they were stored securely away from ammunition, Mr Harpur said.

He imagined the collection was worth "tens of thousands of dollars".

Some of the guns would be sought after by criminals, he said.

A scene examination was being completed and officers were reinterviewing the owners.

"There's a number of forensic things that we're undertaking and it's very early stages but I'm confident that we will, in time, resolve it."

In 2007, officials had approved the address and location of where the recreational weapons were stored, Mr Harpur said.

The burglary was an opportunity to remind the public that if they didn't need that level of ammunition, not to store it at the property.

"And if you do, please ensure that it's in a really secure area away from view."

A number plate, EAL626, was located at the top of the driveway. It appeared to have been ripped off a vehicle. This plate was cancelled on December 28, last year, police said.

Assistant Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said police estimated more than 950 guns were stolen each year, and in more than half of all instances, more than one gun was taken.

"In a small number of cases, such as yesterday's burglary in Auckland, we suspect people legally possessing restricted weapons are targeted," he said.

Yesterday's burglary came on the eve of Operation Unification, an Australasian-wide two-week campaign aimed at encouraging the public to report those who hold guns illegally.

The operation was about community safety, aimed at recovering illicit firearms - often linked with gangs - from criminals, Mr Burgess said.

Most people never felt the threat of illegal firearms in their neighbourhood, he said.

"But there is a small sub-culture of people who think it's fine for them to hold guns without a licence or appropriate security measures. We know gang members and other criminals like the prestige and reputation they get from illicit firearms."

Analysis of intelligence data shows a clear link between the illegal drugs trade and possession of guns.

"We regularly receive reports of gang members using firearms for stand-over tactics and inter-gang rivalry, often as part of protecting illegal drug syndicates," Mr Burgess said.

Gun City managing director David Tipple said most of the weapons stolen yesterday were shotguns for duck shooting or hitting clay targets.

He presumed the owner of the guns had other family members and friends who were hunters, as it seemed like a lot of guns for one person.

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Items stolen:
"Caesar Guerini" (brand)
* one Forum 12 gauge field gun;
* one Forum 12 gauge sporter impact;
* one Elipse Evo 20 gauge field gun and another 28 gauge barrel; and
* four semi automatic shotguns.
"Browning" (brand)
* two 12 gauge, two shot semi automatic (1966);
* one Berretta .22 rifle semi automatic (1966);
* one Browning 20 gauge semi automatic 5 shot shotgun;
* one Winchester Martini Actim .22 collection gun;
* one Remington 30/30 lever action collectors gun;
* one Remington 1187 Camo 12 gauge semi automatic shotgun;
* one Parkerdale Safari 30-06 rifle; and
* 5000 rounds of shotgun ammunition.

- APNZ

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