Confirmation today that a register of firearm owners stolen from Auckland Police station covers 2003-2018, means over 67,000 firearm owners and their private addresses may have been in the hands of criminals.
The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners (COLFO) says the Auckland Police were likely to have processed firearm licence applications for Northland, Waitemata, Auckland City, Counties Manukau and Waikato. The total licence holders from those regions in April 2022 was 67,213.
The 15-year span is longer than the renewal period, so it is possible that every licensed owner in the upper North Island is on the list (most likely a printed version of a digitally stored register).
COLFO Spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack said the theft is the biggest security breach in recent New Zealand history, matched only by the danger created when the Police gave a firearm licence to the Christchurch terrorist.
“Let there be no mistake, the ramifications of this theft, and of Police negligence, could be catastrophic. Criminals had, and may still have, a list of possibly 66,000 people and their addresses, where firearms would have been stored.
“Thefts from licensed firearms owners have reduced drastically in the past few years. This security breach could cause thefts to skyrocket.
“COLFO believes that thefts and other criminal incidents enabled by information on this list open the Police to future civil legal proceedings.
“Any firearms stolen from LFOs in the upper North Island since May could be due to this theft. That makes Police negligence responsible for the thefts, for the endangerment of firearm owners and their families, and for what is done with those firearms by criminals,” Devereux-Mack says.
“This new information underlines how appalling was the attempt by Police to play the theft down when it first came to light. If the thieves never acted on the information or passed it on, then only dumb luck may save us. Either way, the scale of public endangerment requires top level resignations,” Devereux-Mack says.
While firearms will have been kept securely, determined thieves armed with tools, knowledge and time can break into safes and other security measures. A major protection for owners is therefore that criminals don’t know which properties have firearms.
Devereux-Mack says the breach shows a digital register is fallible when managed by Police.
“This security breach highlights the grave concern of licensed firearm owners that the planned full firearm register will potentially provide another shopping list for criminals.”