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SWAT Weapons Theft Prompts Policy Review

Posted April 25, 2007

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— The Wake County Sheriff's Office is reviewing its policies and procedures after seven weapons were stolen from a van as members of the county SWAT team to an out-of-state competition.

Members of the office's Special Response Team were on their way to Little Rock, Ark., for the World SWAT Challenge when their van was broken into Monday afternoon outside a restaurant in Memphis, Tenn.

"They parked in a place that was visible, and it's just one of those things that happened," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. "One of the guys came to retrieve something and saw the car had been broken into, and actually the bad guys were leaving when he came out."

Three assault rifles with several hundred rounds of ammunition, two 12-gauge shotguns and two .357-caliber semiautomatic handguns were stolen from the van, authorities said. The weapons are valued at about $7,000, authorities said, adding that they are more concerned about the firearms winding up in the wrong hands.

The unmarked van was locked and the windows are tinted, so the thieves probably had no idea what they would find, Harrison said. Because the white van resembles a construction vehicle, the thieves might have been looking for tools inside, he said.

"There were more weapons than usual, and they were going to the competition so they just had them in there. They had them covered up, of course, but they were not secured," he said. "I think once (the thieves) got inside and saw what they had, unfortunately for us, it was not a good day."

The theft was captured on a nearby surveillance video camera, which helped the Memphis police investigation. Police had detained  five people late Wednesday in connection with the incident, but no charges had been filed.

Police also have recovered at least one of the weapons, authorities said.

In light of the incident, Harrison said the sheriff's office would look at how the team travels with weapons in the future.

"We're going to look at it and see what actually happened and, if we're traveling, at other means of securing these guns," he said. "We'll look at it. We learn from mistakes. Hopefully, we'll get our weapons back and the main thing is to hope nobody gets hurt."

48 Comments

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  • srtwife Apr 26, 2007

    My error- "refiman" only deserved part of my remarks. It's "mvnull" that had it coming.

  • srtwife Apr 26, 2007

    "refiman"... your rebuttle to my statement is like comparing apples to oranges. You left items on your front porch- unsecured and in plain view, versus items that were in a locked, unmarked vehicle that had tinted windows. You act like they left the weapons completely unsecured. The swat officers did not violate any Sheriff's Department policies and I think it's time we started focusing our remarks on the criminals who committed this crime - or have we forgotten about them? And to "Psychobabble" (your screen name couldn't be more appropriate) if you were in a situation where you needed the immediate response of a swat team- wouldn't you hope that their gear was already inside their vehicles to shorten their response time? Or- would you want them to be delayed to your crisis because they had to take an extra 20 minutes to load up everything they needed? That goes for all officers across this country- they are required to drive around w/ weapons in their patrol cars. Get a grip.

  • anonemoose Apr 26, 2007

    I just read another story where a police car was broken into in the officer's driveway at home. They took an automatic rifle, shotgun, computer, and everything else including report forms. I mean they totally cleaned it out. I will leave a shotgun, or semi auto rifle in the car overnight, but not anything full auto, nor do I leave weapons in the car on days off.

  • Maj. T.J. Kong Apr 26, 2007

    Yes, a child getting killed would be tragic. I think Melinda Doolittle will win.

  • refiman Apr 26, 2007

    I hope some child does not get killed by 1 of those fire-arms that still have not been recovered. Why did the SWAT team not secure those weapons better. Sounds very irresponsible to let weapons get stolen, especially if you are a cop.

  • Maj. T.J. Kong Apr 26, 2007

    I sure am glad Sanjaya finally got voted off!

  • lizard Apr 26, 2007

    We still don't know if the Bar-B-Que is any good there,,,and how did the team do in hand-to-hand competition?

  • mvnull Apr 26, 2007

    "Apparently none of you have ever been the victim of a crime- if you were- did you blame yourself when it happened? I didn't think so, but I bet you called the police!" (srtwife) Yes and no. I've had things stolen off my front porch. Of course it was my fault for leaving something valuable in plain sight. I never report them as that is a waste of time.

    The members of the SWAP team can't be blamed for the break in of their van, but they were completely irresponsible not to have taken better care of their weapons. If they don't recover them, it is certain they will be used in a crime somewhere.

  • I hear voices Apr 26, 2007

    nowon_yuno... I'm prior military and yes, if the weapons aren't secured in an arms room there should be a weopons guard posted and rotate out in shifts. As for what would happen if a regular joe had this happen, well the weapons would be used in a crime and the regular joe would be held responsible instead of the criminals because thats the way the world is going. Just my opinion.

  • 2little2late Apr 26, 2007

    the SWAT team is the first person/organization i would want to be on my side...that being said, i would imagine there will a specific line item in the next budget request for more secure weapons storage..what would have happened if these extremely deadly weapons had been used in massacre? Scary thought

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