Organised crime is considered as a likely motive behind Monday’s armed robbery of a Melbourne gun shop.
Four masked men are still on the run after they stormed the High Street store in Thornbury just after 11am armed with a sledgehammer, ransacked it and stole a number of firearms.
They fled in a stolen white SUV that was found dumped a short time later in nearby Clapham Street.
The armed men entered the High Street store in Thornbury just after 11am on Monday and stole a number of firearms. Detectives remained at the scene for most of the day.
O’Reilly’s Firearms describes itself on its website as Australia’s largest gun dealer. Pictured above are guns on display at the store.
Of the 2310-odd guns stolen in Victoria in the past three years, 760 of them were in 2016-2017, the Herald Sun reported.
The guns stolen on Monday are estimated to retail for $700 to $1800, but could fetch up to $10,000 on the black market.
Described as Australia’s largest gun dealer on its website, O’Reilly’s Firearms stock many firearms that are popular in the underworld.
Police haven’t ruled out links to similar robberies.
The South Morang Hunting, Fishing and Camping was targeted by thieves almost a year ago.
A staff member at that shop told the Herald Sun that Monday’s robbery seemed similar.
Store security had since been upgraded with an electronically operated bulletproof door and an entry limit of one person at a time.
‘You have to rethink your whole security … They can’t come in unless we let them in,’ he said.
‘The staff from our store empathise with them (Monday’s victims). Having experienced it we understand how they are feeling.’
One gun industry source described O’Reilly’s as a professional and well-run gun shop that was rarely robbed.
Armed Crime Squad detectives said a large number of handguns were stolen in Monday’s robbery.
‘We do not know the exact number of firearms stolen…but we do know they were handguns,’ Assistant Commissioner Stephan Fontana said at Monday’s press conference.
‘We’re putting all our resources into recovering these weapons and charging the offenders responsible.
Victorian detectives remained at the High Street scene in Thornbury for most of the day.
‘The offenders have done their planning and knew what they were looking for,’ Assistant Commissioner Stephan Fontana said.
‘We think there may be more than a dozen (guns stolen) … but I think it’s premature (to state a number) until we’ve done our full audit.
‘The offenders have done their planning and knew what they were looking for.
‘They were targeting that shop to get those weapons.’
Armed Crime Squad detectives are investigating but say a large number of handguns were stolen