Rural gun owners are being urged to properly secure their weapons amid police fears of rising theft in the state.
Around 650 of the 1000 guns stolen in Victoria in the last financial year were taken from farms, Livestock Theft and Farm Crime head of practice Superintendent Craig Gillard told the Huffington Post Australia.
He said rural gun owners can expect a visit from police to ensure their weapons are stored properly.
“We’ll be conducting safety inspections if you like of firearms, so visiting licenced firearms holders and checking the firearms registered to them are accounted for, they’re securely and safely stored in accordance with legislation.
“I don’t want anybody to misunderstand what it is we’re about. It’s not about putting the pressure back on the potential victim – we’ll chase down every offender we possibly can.
“What we’re about is reducing the likelihood that people become victims. We’d sooner prevent a crime than investigate one. It takes far more time and effort and involves much more work.
The Police Association has said officers have been finding guns every two days, when pulling over cars in Melbourne's north and west.
— Warwick Long (@Warwick_Long) November 11, 2015
Superintendent Gillard was talking to the HuffPost following the annual Victoria Police Agricultural Liaison Officer (AGLO) conference at the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Agricultural College.
At the two day conference police and members of the community discussed rural crime - - including livestock, equipment and gun theft.
He said simple things – like not leaving your gun-safe key in an obvious place – can help.
Mr Gillard said he struggled to understand why farmers who have registered firearms in the house go on holiday and leave the guns unattended.
He urged holidaying licenced gun owners to leave them with a fellow licenced firearms owner during long absences.
“Or alternatively go and see a licenced firearm dealer and ask them if he can look after them, just like a cat or a dog in a border-kennel when you go away for two weeks.
“It’s not a legislative requirement, but I’d say it’s common sense.
“Have we got a problem, yes we have, there’s a serious amount of work to be done and there’s much we can do, but we can’t do it as police alone.”