Fifty more guns have been added to the growing tally of stolen firearms in Alberta after a break-in near Sundre.
The cumulative total of firearms that have been reported stolen or missing in Alberta was 10,000 at the beginning of this year.
Last year 1,300 firearms were stolen in areas of Alberta covered by the RCMP.
“It is a big deal,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Sharon Franks said Thursday about the Sundre theft that occurred on Tuesday.
“It’s a huge public safety issue. Absolutely.”
Additional officers have been assigned to assist the Sundre RCMP detachment with the investigation, she said.
“We are certainly taking it seriously. The fact is is that we now have additional firearms that are on the street, which elevates the risk to all of us, including citizens as well as police,” Franks said.
The guns were stolen from a rural residence near Sundre. There were 35 long-barrelled firearms and 15 handguns taken from a secured room in the home.
Jewelery and other items, including the homeowner’s pickup truck, were also taken. The truck was found abandoned several kilometres north of the residence but nothing else has been recovered.
Witnesses reported to police that they saw a blue newer model pickup truck, jacked up with big tires and a blue tarp in the box, near the residence around the time of the break-in.
“It’s becoming more frequent as we’re conducting lawful investigations … that we are finding firearms, and as it turns out, many of those have been stolen from previous crimes,” Franks said.
“It’s obviously very alarming knowing we have 50 additional firearms that have reached the hands of criminals. Whoever stole these guns is likely going to sell them to someone else who may sell them to someone else. It’s a commodity.”
“Some of the evidence of what we’re seeing is it is the lawful gun owners whose guns are the ones being targeted and stolen and sold underground,” she said.
Franks reminded gun owners to store their firearms correctly, know what kind of firearms they have and if they go missing or are stolen, report it right away to police.
Anyone with information about the Sundre theft is asked to contact Sundre RCMP Detachment at (403) 638-3675. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by toll-free phone at 1-800-222-8477, online at tipsubmit.com or by SMS text message (check the local Crime Stoppers at crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).