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  • Thu, January 17, 2013 5:40 PM | Anonymous

    Stolen weapons arm city's criminal gangs

    Part of a haul of guns that were seized in March 2012 / Pic: Police Media Source: The Daily Telegraph

    MORE than 10 guns a week have been stolen from NSW homes over the past six months, prompting fears they fell into the hands of criminals.

    Police figures show 295 weapons were stolen from July to December last year.

    While police say many were expensive long-arms and possibly stolen to be collectors' items, gun control advocates said they would have been sold on the black market.

    "Research shows that only a small percentage of guns stolen are ever recovered," Gun Control Australia spokeswoman Sam Lee said.

    "They certainly don't go on to collectors' shelves.

    "The main source for guns falling into the criminal market is theft from homes."

    The figures emerged as Sydney remains in the grip of a gun crime crisis amid a bloody bikie gang war.

    And with no answers in sight from the Premier or Police Minister, it can be revealed that sweeping powers to crack down on violent bikies were offered by the Prime Minister in October but Barry O'Farrell didn't even bother to write back.

    Julia Gillard wrote to Mr O'Farrell on October 20 and told him uniform anti-bikie gang laws could be introduced if the states referred their powers to the Commonwealth.

    But Mr O'Farrell, who has accused Ms Gillard of dragging her heels on introducing uniform national laws, is yet to respond more than three months later.

    Yesterday Police Minister Mike Gallacher refused at a press conference to comment on gun crime, preferring to launch a watered-down policy for a drunk tank that can hold only 10 people.

    What is the best way to control gun crime and regulate gun ownership?

    However, last night he said his "sobering-up centres" would not detract from shooting investigations.

    While shootings across Sydney continue - a Hells Angels bikie was murdered on Tuesday - police believe guns stolen from homes, mostly rifles and shotguns, are not destined for criminal gangs.

    Their weapons of choice are handguns or semi-automatics.

    Police also point to the fact that from July to December they seized more than 6500 illegal weapons.

    Nearly all the firearms stolen from homes over the past six months were from rural areas.

    "Some are very expensive and may be sought after by people who want them for their private collections," Detective Superintendent Ken Finch, head of the NSW Firearms and Organised Crime Squad, said.

    But in many of the robberies entire gun safes are being removed from the premises.

    "The incidence of thefts is relatively stable but there is an increase in multiple weapons being stolen," Supt Finch said.

    Despite this he did not believe organised crime gangs were involved and said that in many cases the guns were stolen by opportunistic locals.

    "In rural communities it is pretty well known who is a gun collector or if someone has a lot of weapons," he said.

    "Also, people in these communities tend to know if properties are weekenders or if people are away for long periods of time."

    In May last year The Daily Telegraph reported 63 legal guns were stolen in 16 days, raising fears the NSW Firearms Registry was compromised. Supt Finch said those fears were unfounded and he was confident information on the registry was secure.

    "But it would be na adive not to think some of the them are linked," he said. "Similarly there have been a number of arrests where the alleged offenders have been locals."

    Supt Finch said that of equal concern to stolen firearms "has been the increased incidence of illegal importation of handguns, predominantly from the USA and Europe".

    "Several criminal syndicates have been detected and arrested for illegally importing handguns," he said.

  • Thu, January 17, 2013 5:26 PM | Anonymous

    Written by KEY News Staff

    Santa Barbara- The South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs unveiled their annual report Thursday. Various sectors of the community attended the quarterly meeting to discuss plans for the coming year to decrease youth violence. Their main focus is tackling gang violence by keeping our young out of jails.

    Santa Barbara City Councilwoman, Cathy Murillo was in attendance. She says she came out to get an update on what's being done, and she's a strong supporter of the process. She adds that's important to get to the root of why our young are in gangs, in order to get them out. 

    Santa Barbara Deputy District Attorney, David Chen, shared the latest on the truancy program called CLASS. Chen adds says they're starting a 5 step program, which starts with a letter that goes out to the families of students who have 3 unexcused absences, signaling to parents and guardians that there may be an issue. The letter is then followed by after school interventions, one on one meetings with school administrators and even the DA's office. Ultimately, they want to know what's causing the student to skip class. 

    Given tight budgetary constraints, other goals for 2013 include establishing a Service Provider Group that focuses on sharing resources. 

    KEY News Reporter Shirin Rajaee reports.
  • Tue, January 15, 2013 11:20 AM | Anonymous

    Calif. Chief: Gangs Responsible for Crime Wave


    Police Chief Howard Jordan says the gangs are responsible for about 90 percent of the shootings.

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- City leaders rejected calls Monday to declare a state of emergency over a surge in violent crime they say is being driven by two warring criminal gangs.

    The gangs, which authorities refused to name, are responsible for about 90 percent of Oakland's shootings, robberies and murders since summer, including four of this year's six homicides, police Chief Howard Jordan said.

    Using Jordan's estimates, the criminal groups had committed about 2,000 robberies and 65 homicides in the second half of last year. Jordan refused to estimate the membership totals in both groups.

    City leaders spoke Monday after a brutally violent weekend that saw 15 people shot over the course of 60 hours, four of them fatally in separate incidents on Friday.

    The shootings prompted discussions in City Hall about declaring a state of emergency, and Vice Mayor Larry Reid openly called for it Saturday, citing a lack of police officers to deal with rising violence.

    But Jordan and Mayor Jean Quan said there was no benefit currently in declaring a state of emergency because the city was already getting the same level of help from outside police agencies that the declaration would trigger.

    "We understand it's an emergency," Quan said. "We have called for assistance and gotten assistance from everybody we have asked so far, and we'll be asking for more over the next few weeks."

    Jordan said police had made one arrest in connection with Friday's fatal

    shooting in the 3400 block of West Street and arrested three other "persons of interest" potentially connected to Friday's shootings.

    Police in recent days have pinned the city's violence on two rival criminal groups that began sparring over the killing of a woman last summer. But Monday was the first time Jordan said that the two groups were responsible for such a large percentage of violent crime in Oakland.

    The groups "grow almost every week," and one of them has merged with other

    violent groups, Jordan said.

    Police targeted one of the groups during a coordinated sweep Friday morning, just hours before the four shooting deaths later in the day. Jordan said there was no indication the two actions were related. He promised additional crackdowns.

    "We are going to be relentless; we are going to be aggressive, and we are going to bring them to justice," he said.

    Oakland is suffering from the twin plagues of rising crime and a shrinking police force.

    Violent crime in Oakland jumped 23 percent last year while the police department wilted under the weight of retirements and resignations to just 612 officers, its lowest staffing level in over a decade. Oakland officers are being forced to work overtime just to fully staff beats.

    A declaration, if approved by the governor, would allow the state to pay for help from outside law enforcement agencies. It also would empower the city to impose a curfew in specific areas "to preserve the public order and safety."

    "No one seems to understand that this is a crisis and that we have to reach out as far as we can to make this city a safer place," Reid said.

    He hoped a declaration would force nearby cities to provide officers to respond to service calls in Oakland.

    The City Council can make an emergency declaration independent of the mayor, but it's not clear whether there's enough support. Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Libby Schaaf both said Monday they needed more information before considering it.

    Oakland is already getting assistance from the California Highway Patrol, as well as nearby school district and housing authority police, officials said. The CHP assistance is scheduled to end later this month, but Quan said the city expected to receive an extension. She also said she would be seeking additional federal aid to help get guns off city streets.

    The City Council is considering contracting out for deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, who could help bridge the gap until the department's first batch of new recruits complete their field training this summer.

    City leaders have gotten in hot water recently for making strong statistical claims about crime. Last year, Quan had to

    retract a key underpinning of her crime plan, which incorrectly held that 90 percent of homicides and shootings had been occurring within a highly concentrated 100 blocks of the city.

    Jordan said that police have improved intelligence on the two criminal groups and that the department has begun concentrating officers at locations where police anticipate retaliatory shootings will occur.

    "We have done a very good job of identifying them," he said. "Now our job is to focus and bring them to justice."

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