Victoria police are asking the public to be on the lookout for a number of pieces of crowd-control gear which have gone missing.
The items include tear gas canisters, pepper ball guns and ammunition, ARWEN rounds (a hard plastic baton used for crowd dispersal) and several tactical vests. But most worrying to the department is the absence of a Remington shotgun, which police use to fire non-lethal rounds, but which can also fire conventional 12-gauge shells.
“This weapon is the source of our greatest concern, and my highest priority to recover,” said Chief Const. Jamie Graham.
Graham would not say when the items went missing, nor do police know whether the equipment was stolen or if it has simply been misplaced.
All the gear belongs to the department’s Crowd Management Unit, but while some of it is locked away until needed, other items are stored in police vehicles. There are no apparent signs of a theft or break-in to one of the vehicles, Graham said.
The chief has launched two separate investigations into the matter. The VicPD detective division will look into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance, while the professional standards unit will perform an audit of the internal policies and practices related to inventory management.
“Clearly this is unacceptable. Whether the items were stolen, improperly disposed of or inadvertently misplaced, it is unacceptable not to know their current disposition. For that I take full responsibility,” said Graham.
“I can promise, however, that we will do everything possible to recover these items and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Graham added that he knows whom the items were assigned to, but that it would be premature to assign blame at this stage of the investigation.
Although it is not labeled as such, the gear is easily identifiable as police equipment. The department warned that anyone coming across it should refrain from handling it, and contact police immediately either by calling 911 or, if they want to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
“The worst scenario possibly in the world is some youngster gets ahold of one of these items and hurts themselves. We don’t want that to happen,” Graham said.