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Rifles stolen from Moama and Lockington found

Rifles stolen from Moama and Lockington were found in Bendigo last week.

June 23, 2014 3:22am

A .22 rifle and two high-powered rifles stolen from Moama and Lockington properties are among seven firearms found in Bendigo last week.

Bendigo police executed several search warrants in the town, following a series of alleged police pursuits in the area.

A 26-year-old Bendigo man has been charged with a range of offences, including possession and trafficking of drugs of dependence, traffic offences and firearms offences.

He has been remanded in custody to appear in Bendigo Magistrates Court on August 20.

Head of Practice for Livestock and Farm Crime Superintendent Craig Gillard said the rifles stolen from the Moama property were taken in September last year, while the Lockington thefts were this year.

Last week, the Riv reported the theft of a shotgun, socket set and spanner set from a vehicle parked on Mitiamo Rd last weekend.

Supt Gillard said police were seeing an increase in thefts of firearms from rural properties.

‘‘We have long recognised that there is a black market for stolen firearms and unfortunately it is clearly linked to the drug trade,’’ he said.

‘‘The increased risk that this presents to both members of the public and police is clear.’’

Supt Gillard said the firearms stolen from the Moama and Lockington properties were legal and stored correctly, which showed the lengths criminals would go to.

‘‘In order to mitigate the risk around firearms being stolen, police will increase the number of inspections of licensed firearms holders to ensure firearms are stored in accordance with legal requirements and that all recorded firearms are accountable,’’ he said.

‘‘This is aimed purely at making it harder for criminals to steal firearms.’’

He encouraged licensed firearms holders to use the best possible means to secure their firearms, by building storage receptacles stronger than required and urged them not to leave keys in open view of the firearms cabinet.

‘‘Many inspections have already been undertaken with many more planned,’’ he said.

‘‘Some of these inspections have revealed firearms unaccounted for and improperly stored and those breaches have resulted in charges being laid against firearms owners.’’

Operation Unification is a two-week campaign targeting illicit use, possession, manufacture and importation of firearms.

Community members with information about illicit firearms are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.

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