Investigation into gun theft ‘kick in guts’

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
A keen Dunedin hunter whose firearms were stolen from his gun safe during a break-in has slammed the police investigation as a "kick in the guts".

On August 8, 2022, about noon a Mosgiel resident, who declined to be named, said he came home and noticed his locked gun safe had been broken into using his angle grinder.

The 10 firearms he kept locked in the safe had disappeared.

The man’s security camera at the front of his property recorded the offenders, so he reported the burglary to police, who made inquiries, the man said.

Two people had forced entry to the man’s home through the back door and searched the house.

More than $40,000 worth of firearms, ammunition, hunting and outdoor gear was stolen.

Only four of the firearms were recovered and were handed back in an "unusable" state.

"I basically just got it sorted out with my insurance. The guns were totally done for," the gun owner said.

On August 12, 2022, police went to the Mosgiel address of Robert Paul Laxon with the intent of carrying out a search warrant.

When police arrived, Laxon’s partner opened the door while Laxon fled through the back of the property.

Police located Laxon, detained him, and recovered some of the stolen items from his vehicle.

Laxon was initially charged with burglary, but that was reduced to receiving stolen goods.

The Mosgiel resident said he was disappointed with the police investigation.

"I personally feel like stealing that many guns is quite a serious thing; that was 10 firearms being held by a most likely unlicensed person. Who knows what they could have used them for?

"Us responsible gun owners, we all do our bit but, when something like this happens, it just doesn’t seem to be taken very seriously.

"It really does feel like a kick in the guts.

"There is a lot of talk about gun safety all the time — it’s a red-button topic, but my guns were in the hands of an unlicensed man. I did my part, I made sure they were safely locked up and they still were stolen. Police and the courts really should have taken it more seriously."

A police spokesman said they took the theft of firearms seriously, due to the public safety concern and the risk of them ending up in the hands of criminals.

"In this instance, a robust investigation was undertaken, which involved analysis of CCTV footage, DNA, and search warrants at two properties, one of which was assisted by the armed offenders squad.

"We have been in touch with the victim throughout the process, and empathise with him that the outcome of the investigation and court process was not all he had hoped for — police share his frustration and concern that the four remaining firearms have not yet been recovered."

Laxon was charged with receiving stolen goods, possession of methamphetamine, unlawfully possessing a pistol, unlawfully possessing explosives and failure to comply with conditions of a protection order.

He was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, but due to the amount of time spent on remand, was released immediately.