REGISTERED owners of firearms in the Colac-Otways areas have been warned to “lock it, secure it, or lose it”.
The increasing trend of rural burglaries and firearms thefts has the Geelong divisional firearms compliance office asking gun owners to familiarise themselves with their licence conditions or risk prosecution.
The office launched Operation 388 in an attempt to reduce rural gun thefts, which are occasionally linked to bikie gangs.
Leading Senior Constable Anthony Sheedy from the Geelong divisional firearms office said effective storage of firearms was imperative to reducing thefts.
“Operation 388 will focus on inspecting a number of addresses of the nearly 10,000 licence holders residing in the division,” he said.
“Operation 388 is all about conducting firearms licence compliance audits to increase awareness, compliance and enhance public safety.”
The operation, which began in February, has already found 10 licence holders in breach of their obligations and a total of 260 firearms seized.
“Rural property owners are at greater risk of unwittingly being a source for black market firearms due to a number of factors including inadequate storage practices,” said Leading Senior Constable Sheedy.
“The key message we’re trying to communicate with licence holders is that it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands.”
Significant penalties apply to licensed firearms holders and dealers which may include the cancellation of their firearms licence together with fines.