Amnesty comes as gun theft rises in Katanning and Kojonup

Saskia AdystiGreat Southern Herald

Katanning police say they are ready to fill their firearm cabinet with surrendered weapons after the nationwide gun amnesty comes into effect on July 1.

With increased numbers of burglaries on rural and residential properties in the region, WA Police are keen to take advantage of the three-month nationwide gun amnesty and encouraged locals to surrender their unlicensed firearms and ammunition to the police without fear of prosecution.

During this period any guns surrendered to the police will be taken without legal consequences.

The gun amnesty follows a burglary in February in Kojonup where nine guns and $16,000 in cash were stolen.

The stolen guns have not yet been recovered and are a concern for the region’s police.

In March, Great Southern police Superintendent Dom Wood said the number of gun safe thefts had reached a concerning level.

Katanning Senior Sergeant Simon Underwood said there was a surge of firearm thefts in Katanning and Kojonup earlier this year. There have been about 33 guns stolen from the area this year.

Properties in remote areas are a common target for gun thieves and locals are encouraged to hand in their unlicensed or unused guns to the police during the gun amnesty to minimise risk of them falling into the wrong hands.

WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts said Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission data has indicated there is about 250,000 illegal firearms in Australia, but the WA number is harder to define.

In 2013, a three-month Statewide firearm amnesty resulted in 1281 being handed in to WA Police, including almost 500 firearms from regional WA.

The nationwide gun amnesty will begin on July 1 and end on September 30.

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