19 Jul 2019

Man accused of stealing guns from Palmerston North police station pleads guilty

11:19 am on 19 July 2019

The man accused of stealing nine guns from a Palmerston North police station has pleaded guilty.

Alan James Harris.

Alan James Harris Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

Alan James Harris entered his plea in the Palmerston North District Court this morning.

He was charged with burglary after the guns were taken from the Palmerston North police station in April.

The guns were taken from a secure area in the police station, and one of them was an illegal semi-automatic weapon.

According to the summary of facts read out in court by Judge Lance Rowe, Harris was walking past the police station on 25 April when he looked over the fence and saw a garage door was open.

He kicked down a door to the exhibits room, and took 26 firearms, some ammunition, and some cannabis outside, putting them over a fence into a property next door.

Harris left to get his car and came to load the guns, but was interrupted by police.

He made an escape with nine of the guns, as well as ammunition, and cannabis.

The police have since recovered eight of the nine guns stolen but are still looking for one more.

Alan Harris has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on 13 September.

The guns taken were being held as exhibits, or had been handed in for destruction.

The burglary raised concerns about the security of police stations to secure guns safely as people handed them in following changes to the country's gun laws in the wake of the March mosque shootings in Christchurch.

It lead to a nationwide audit looking at the security of firearms at police stations.