Australian Institute of Criminology

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Better Security Needed to Help Reduce Firearm Theft

Media Release

02 January 2009

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has advised firearm owners to take greater care with security after an increase in firearm theft was recorded in its latest report.

The Firearm theft in Australia 2006-07 annual report released today showed 1,526 firearms were stolen in 626 reported incidents in 2006-07. This represented an increase of 81 stolen firearms from the previous year.

AIC Research Manager Dr Judy Putt said that while the incidence of firearm theft in Australia had remained relatively constant in recent years, safe storage of firearms remained a serious issue for law enforcement agencies.

"Around a quarter of owners who reported a theft in 2006-07 were known not to have complied with the requirements for safe firearm storage," Dr Putt said.

"And of those, one in five owners locked their firearms in an approved receptacle but had not properly concealed the keys.

"In some incidents firearms were stolen from unlocked vehicles, left lying in unlocked sheds or stored in wardrobes and cupboards."

The report found firearms were largely stolen from private residential premises (76% of incidents). The majority of incidents involved theft of multiple firearms, with rifles and shotguns comprising the bulk of firearms stolen (57% and 25% respectively). Handguns represented seven percent of all stolen firearms.

Most firearm thefts (86%) resulted from the unlawful entry of a home, business premises or vehicle.

Dr Putt said the report found that firearms from only a small proportion of thefts were known to have been used in subsequent criminal activity.

"Firearms stolen in just 13 firearm-theft incidents (3%) were later involved in the commission of an offence," she said.

The Firearm theft in Australia report is available at www.aic.gov.au

AIC media contact: Scott Kelleher, Tel: 02.6260 9244; m: 0418 159525.