Firearm thefts sweep province, multi-year issue

The number of firearm thefts across the province has spiked 1,440 per cent in the last six and a half years.

The number of firearm thefts across the province has spiked 1,440 per cent in the last six and a half years.

This is according to Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) communications manager Mike Tucker and ALERT’s Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta (CISA).

Tucker says the number of firearm seizures ALERT is experiencing is also increasing. In 2015 the ALERT has seized 200 firearms.

In 2009/10 ALERT seized 64 firearms; 52 in 2010/11; 39 in 2011/12; 78 in 2012/13; and 149 in 2013/14.

According to CISA, in 2008 there were 10 incidents of breaking and entering to steal a firearm. In 2009 that number jumped to 51; 105 in 2010; 107 in 2011, 130 in 2012 and 154 in 2013.

“I think one of the trends we have noted is there’s more instances occurring in rural residences,” said Tucker. He adds it is common belief that there is a good chance farmhouses will have guns sitting out, available for easy access.

“Maybe the idea is there’s less security in rural environments,” said Tucker.

Tucker says many of the firearms are making their way onto the illegal market.

Due to that, a rising concern for law enforcement is the potential mindset of the firearms buyers, as it has already been involved in one crime — the theft of the firearm itself.

Tucker says home and gun owners need to remain watchful. “I think it’s two-fold, taking the necessary precautions.”

He advises people to keep their firearms locked up properly and remain vigilant in reporting crimes that do occur.

“I think people are sometimes embarrassed,” said Tucker. He explained there are times the thefts are not reported, especially if the owner did not have the firearms properly locked and stored.

However, Tucker says it is important to law enforcement that they are informed when something does take place.