Replicas spark police interest

By Anna Ferrick

The house at the centre of the lock down on Faraday St on Wednesday afternoon was, in fact, not packed with AK-47s but something far less sinister - replicas.

Detective Sergeant Nic Clere of the Napier CIB said they received information from a member of the public regarding the weapons and decided to visit the address around 3pm to "ascertain what the situation was".

Mr Clere said the replicas posed no danger and that no arrests had been made following the search.

"There are no further enquiries on this one, there were no offences committed," he said.

The replicas were left at the address in possession of the occupant. It is not known if the member of the public who made the call was known to the occupants of the home but police were pleased that they had called in.

"It's fantastic that we got a call about it. If anyone is unsure about the status of firearms it's always better that they call us.

"Whenever there is a genuine concern we are always more than happy to help."

Replica weapons have sparked armed callouts in the past, including in 2006 when Queen Street in Auckland was shut down following a man pointing a replica pistol at a child's head.

Replicas can be bought easily and cheaply in New Zealand from a number of websites and can look almost identical to the real thing.

It is an offence under the Arms Act to possess a replica firearm without a lawful, proper and sufficient purpose. Carrying a replica firearm in public without a legitimate reason to do so can result in up to two years in jail or a $4000 fine.

Mr Clere said while it was not illegal to own a replica there were rules around certain replicas. He said responses to people with imitation weapons in their possession depended largely on the circumstances.

"It all depends on the way in which the imitation is being used. If someone was using an imitation firearm in relation to another person they would be committing an offence and could be prosecuted for that."

He could recall one other instance of a replica weapon sparking an Armed Offenders Squad callout.

"A member of the public was seen with a replica shotgun in Hastings, which resulted in the AOS being called in. That was about a year ago.

"If we feel there is any threat that is the standard response."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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