Gun owners who were the victims of theft are facing police charges themselves for being too lax with the security of their firearms.
Police have seen four firearm thefts in the Wangaratta police service areas, which also includes Alpine and Moira shires, over the past month and three could have been prevented if the guns were properly secured.
Local area commander Inspector Luke Kirton said the gun owners have been interviewed and could be charged on summons.
"Everyone who owns a firearm should understand what their compliance obligations are," he said.
"A lot of these people are law-abiding citizens who have never done anything wrong in their life.
"They now face the prospect of having their firearm licence suspended, their firearms seized and a criminal conviction in court as the worst-possible outcome for them."
The thefts were across both farms and suburban properties, and have police concerned about where the guns will end up next.
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"Once they're out in the community, we don't know what they're going to be used for. Worst-case scenario, they can be used for other crimes. It's certainly something we want to stop from occurring, that's for sure," Inspector Kirton said.
"If you're a licensed firearm holder in the North East, you can expect a visit from Victoria Police to randomly inspect your firearm storage compliance in the weeks and months ahead."
Firearms officer Leading Senior Constable Andrew Auld said guns must be stored in a purpose-build gun shed, bolted to the frame of wall or floor so they cannot be taken.
He said people often use a school locker instead, which is easy to break into - especially if it is in a shed with tools nearby rather the than main house.
"Sometimes licence holders get a bit lax when it comes to the security of the keys to the gun safe - gun safe keys should be kept either on the person or secure in a room away from the gun shed," he said.