27 Apr 2019

Firearms burglary at Palmerston North police station 'beggared belief' - gun club secretary

10:21 am on 27 April 2019

The brazen theft of 11 firearms from the Palmerston North police station has left local gun owners shocked and annoyed.

Palmerston North police station

Firearms were stolen from the Palmerston North police station on Thursday. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Eleven firearms were stolen on Thursday morning, including one that was unlawful. Others included a range of criminal case exhibits and firearms which had been handed in for destruction.

The burglary comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons and all assault rifles in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks. Prior to the announcement, many gun owners voluntarily handed in their weapons to police, though the police cannot say how many they received.

Palmerston North Gun Club secretary Chris Beattie said the gun theft "beggared belief".

"I just think it's ironic that the organisation charged with the responsibility of ensuring guns are safely stored and handled can allow this to happen on their own watch," he said.

"It is annoying that the people telling us to be good can't do it themselves."

Mr Beattie said it was difficult to see how the guns could have been stolen if they were being stored properly.

"Every gun owner is required to have their firearms locked and their ammo locked separately so therefore it can't get stolen.

"So if it's going to get stolen from a police station, where were those guns being stored? Were they being stored correctly? I don't see how they could have been."

Acting Central District Commander Sarah Stewart last night told Checkpoint the exhibit storage area the guns were held in was secured, but declined to provide further details.

She had no information that ammunition was taken.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush has directed an investigation be conducted into how an offender was able to gain access to the police station, as well as an immediate audit on security around firearms at all stations nationwide.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said he had sought fresh assurances that firearms storage facilities at police stations are secure and fit-for-purpose.

"I have now sought fresh assurances from the Commissioner that all stations and firearms-handling processes are secure and fit for purpose, and that firearms are stored safely, whether they are crime scene exhibits or otherwise."

The man wanted in relation to the burglary has been arrested, but the missing firearms are still being sought.