Dedicated firearm taskforce takes aim in Toowoomba
A DEDICATED taskforce has firearm thefts in its sights, zeroing in on how offenders are targeting the district's lawful gun owners.
The multi-agency project is probing how licensed weapons owners are being identified - a key factor police believe is behind a recent surge in firearm theft - and raising public awareness.
Police reports reveal no area is immune from the targeted robberies, with rural properties and suburban homes burgled in increasingly violent manners since January.
A surge in gun theft and crime across the district was the catalyst behind the ongoing District Review and Investigation into Firearm Theft project.
When the spike failed to drop, the multi-faceted taskforce was rolled out across the Darling Downs district and now includes the Firearm Investigation Team from State Crime Command, Weapons Licensing and state intelligence officers.
The project, spearheaded by Detective Sergeant Tony Morris, is the first of its kind in the state and, if proven successful, would be rolled out across Queensland in weapons offences hotspots.
"This project is having a closer look at the reported thefts to try and get some information on how they are occurring so we can address that," he said.
"The longer it goes, the more intelligence we will have and the more links we will have to why it's happening."
Det. Sgt Morris said the project was not designed to target lawful gun owners but the public awareness component did seek to educate on proper storage methods and increase security measures.
"We're basically trying to work with, or reinforce, those measures that the gun owners have to take under the Weapons Act," he said.
"If there is a breach of the Weapons Act, we have to take action but the focus is not on them.
"We are not going out to target the lawful gun owners who are doing the right thing; we're targeting the offenders who are stealing the firearms."
Liaison officers stationed around the Darling Downs police district work under the project in a unified approach against gun crime.
Report any information to Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.