A new investigation found that nearly 1,000 weapons are missing from police, from Glocks, Sig Sauers and Remingtons to sniper and assault rifles that have grenade launchers. Guns have been taken from everything from gym bags to behind a car seat. One officer even forgot his high-powered assault rifle when he left it in the trunk of a taxi. Another left a weapon sitting on a toilet paper dispenser in a car dealership’s bathroom. One weapon is gone every other day.
Just a year ago, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot with a bullet from a gun that was stolen from a federal agent. Now, it seems, her story is not only the beginning but also not the first time. A gun stolen in 2010 from a police officer in Tracy, California turned up four years later when it was used to kill a man in Contra Costa County.
The Oakland Police Department has been working to resolve several scandals, but here’s another one: Officers have lost 370 weapons since 2011.
Most weapons “go missing” from an officer’s vehicle and a majority come from the California Highway Patrol.
“This needs to stop,” state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo told the San Jose Mercury News. He’s sponsoring legislation in Sacramento that would make it illegal in California for a police officer to leave a weapon in an unattended car unless it’s locked in a case or hidden compartment.
“They don’t take it as seriously as they should, and what the effects of it could be if it gets lost to the wrong hands,” he continued.
When an officer loses a weapon or their weapon is stolen, accountability is difficult to come by. In some agencies, investigators were unable to uncover what the punishment is, in others the punishment wasn’t much more than a slap on the wrist.
The officer that left the assault weapon in the taxi trunk got lucky, the driver turned the gun into police. But, all the officer got was a written reprimand. Another cop who had a gun stolen from his house got a lecture and instruction to buy a gun safe.
While many were stolen, the vast majority of the guns are quite simply gone. “We just don’t really know what happened to them,” Lt. Rodney Rego said. He thinks that they could have been “cannibalized for parts” or simply lost or traded in for newer weapons.
It leaves little information and zero accountability for police.
Check out an outline of the lost weapons from the Mercury News below: