The following story shows how theft of firearms is inevitable. No amount of compliance with safe storage rules by firearms licensees would have prevented it.
It raises an important question. If the military can lose firearms like this (and the police have shown they are capable of losing weapons as well), where is the value in using scarce police time and resources to harass sporting shooters on this? They would be better catching criminals.
Soldier faces weapons charge
By Mark Dunn
December 15, 2006 12:00am
Article from: Herald-Sun
A SOLDIER has been charged after a huge cache of defence force guns and ammunition was found on several properties in central Victoria.
Sources told the Herald Sun about 163 weapons, ordnance and other material were stockpiled on properties linked to a sergeant serving with the Puckapunyal School of Artillery.
The weaponry is said to fill six freight containers.
Police said a 53-year-old Tooborac man had been charged with a number of dishonesty and firearm offences in relation to the alleged theft of property from the Australian Defence Force.
The ADF is conducting an urgent audit of its armouries at Puckapunyal and other military sites after the stockpile was found this week.
“There are some weapons and a considerable amount of ammunition. They range from small arms to high-powered rifles,” a spokesman said.
The sergeant is believed to be undergoing psychological assessment at a military centre after the weapons were found on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Police expect to lay further charges. Military police alerted Victoria Police to the theft on Tuesday.
The soldier’s home and another rural property were searched. It is believed weapons were found in houses, sheds and out-buildings.
Police widened their search to include the sergeant’s mother’s house and an acquaintance’s property on Wednesday.
The ADF spokesman said the military would compare weapon serial numbers and ammunition types with their records.
He said financial gain did not appear to be a factor.
“We don’t believe this is a trafficking case,” the spokesman said.
The Puckapunyal base, opened in 1939 to train troops, is on 40,000ha near Seymour, 96km north of Melbourne.
Security at the site is expected to be reviewed.
It was unclear whether any of the ordnance had been used.
But the ADF said the theft did not come to its notice through reports of any firing at the sergeant’s property.
A defence source said the ADF placed huge significance on the security of its armouries and all weapons were subject to a fortnightly audit. “There are also commonsense things like weapons are never stored with their breach block in them . . . ammunition is never stored with weapons and vice versa.”
Some weapons are stored under permanent armed guard in armouries and others within special safes inside armouries.
But no system was foolproof, the source said, especially if the theft was an inside job.