Sniper rifle, service weapon stolen from unlocked detective’s vehicle

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An internal investigation has been launched by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office after firearms and equipment were stolen out of a detective’s unlocked vehicle.

Among the stolen items was an Accuracy International AT308 sniper rifle. The office confirmed.

The crime happened sometime between Monday and Tuesday evening, after the detective left his vehicle unlocked, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“The suspect or suspects, in this case, stole pretty much everything that’s in his vehicle. That includes his duty weapon that he carries and a high powered rifle that was in his vehicle,” explained Community Affairs Director with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Kaitlyn Perez. “In addition to some specialized equipment. He is a member of the SWAT team so he specifically has a sniper rifle in his vehicle. That has been removed and we have concerns about that getting into the wrong hands.”

“To say that I’m upset would be mild,” Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said Wednesday afternoon. “We now have a sniper rifle on the streets because of the negligence.”

An internal investigation is underway. The sheriff’s office said the sheriff is disappointed in the detective.

“We preach it: ‘Lock your car before you go anywhere.’ This detective made a poor decision and failed to do that. What’s going to happen now is the investigation will move to internal affairs and they will decide if any violations occurred and, if they did and if there are sustained violations, we will address that when the time comes,” Perez said.

The sheriff’s office is working to round up the stolen items.

“We’ve deployed a lot of resources here at the agency. We are looking at pawn shops, we are looking into talking to people we know in the community. People who help us out with our investigations, we are heavily stressing the importance of finding these weapons and taking them off the street. The rifle specifically is high caliber, if it’s in the wrong hands it could be traded, for example, sold or used and we hope that’s not the case and it doesn’t come to that,” Perez said.

The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office seeks help from the public with any information about the burglary. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling (941) 366-8477 or through one of the sheriff’s office’s social media platforms. You can as well call the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 861-4900

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