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Alan James Harris, 38, allegedly stole the firearms from the Palmerston North Police Station yesterday morning.
The guns were in an exhibit storage area at the station and some of them were handed in for destruction.
They were not police firearms "but were a range of weapons being held as exhibits or handed in for destruction".
Harris was found by a member of police staff in the yard of the police station at 7.40am.
He fled in a car, which police have since recovered, along with another car owned by him.
Acting Central District Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart said the burglary was being taken very seriously.
"Locating Harris is a high priority for Central District Police," she said.
"I urge anyone with information about his whereabouts to come forward to Police."
"A warrant for his arrest has been issued. He should not be approached."
She added: "I am very concerned about what has occurred — it is absolutely unacceptable."
None of the guns were police firearms, she said.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has asked for an investigation into how Harris was able to get into the police station.
The investigation would also require an immediate audit of security around firearms at all police stations nationwide.