POLICE on both sides of the Border are targeting illicit firearms in a national crackdown.
Operation Unification targets weapons used for criminal activity.
The operation calls for members of the public to come forward with information on stolen or illegally possessed firearms.
Albury Inspector David Cottee said while gun violence was relatively rare on the Border, the area was “not untouched by the problem”.
“We have had instances this year of pen pistols being seized and made in the local area,” he said.
“These are weapons that can kill.
“We call for anyone with any information to come forward and report it.
“The aim is to remove firearms from the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”
Statistics from Victoria Police show an increase in the number of prohibited people being caught with guns.
There were 281 instances 10 years ago, a number which rose to 366 during the past financial year.
More than 500 firearms were reported stolen in NSW last financial year, most of which were rifles and shotguns.
“Potentially every gun we take is a life saved,” Insp Cottee said.
“It’s very important to get as many as we can off the street and we need the public’s help to do that.
“People can call Crime Stoppers and they can also contact their local police station.
“If it’s an emergency, we still urge them to contact triple-0.”
Victorian Assistant Commissioner Crime Command Stephen Fontana said there was a “concerning trend” of firearms being stolen from rural properties.
“If you are a licensed firearm holder or dealer, you are obliged to make sure your firearms are stored securely in compliance with the legislative requirements to prevent them from being stolen and falling into the hands of criminals,” he said.
The operation, which is led by the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency Crime Forum, runs until June 29.