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Criminals target farmers' gun safes

LOCK IT UP: Western Downs grazier Graham Hibbett checks the ammo shelf of his gun safe.
LOCK IT UP: Western Downs grazier Graham Hibbett checks the ammo shelf of his gun safe. Alasdair Young

GUN thieves have the Dalby-Burnett region in their sights, and they are enjoying high returns on the risk of raiding farmers' safes.

QPS statistics show of the 143 thefts over the past two years from the South West District, many of which involved multiple guns, 22 had been solved.

Gun crime is very rare in the south-west, despite the high number of weapons going missing, which raises the question; where are these guns going?

Senior Sergeant and Officer in Charge at Dalby police station Terry McCullough said they were likely on the black market in coastal towns, where gangs held more influence.

"Anecdotally they are more likely to go to the coast, the cities, where they're in demand by organised criminals. In previous years an organised gang came from the Gold Coast and targeted a farm in the Dalby area, breaking in and stealing guns.

"Luckily a farmer got CCTV (footage) of them which is great; they were identified and charged," he said.

While police do occasionally have wins like this, the majority of gun thefts go unsolved. A typical gun theft occurs in a shed or a dwelling, where farmers are likely to leave their safes for convenience. If a crowbar fails, criminals will use thermal cutting tools or grinders to cut the hinges off the safe.

Sgt McCullough said failure to secure weapons could give anti-gun lobbyists more ammunition to restrict shooters' rights through acts of parliament.

"As more guns get into the wrong hands...it's improving the case for anti-gun people. If you want to own guns for work, or sport, it's in your own interest to secure them," he said.

GUN FACTS

- Of the 143 guns thefts in the past two years, 91 have been from Dalby-Burnett region and 43 from Roma.

- Each theft typically involves multiple weapons; last year 22 guns were stolen from Chinchilla over the course of five thefts.

- The most common targets for gun thieves are dwellings, sheds and vehicles.

- In 2014-15, 67% of South West District gun thefts went unsolved. In 2015-16, 73% remain unsolved.


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