POLICE believe offenders targeted a local home while the residents stepped out, making off with four guns and ammunition.
The theft is the latest in a string of robberies with 25 guns stolen from across the region since January 1.
The guns, ranging from shotguns to long arm rifles, as well as scopes and ammunition, have been taken illegally from homes in Breeza, Armidale, Moree, Burren Junction as well as a business in Wee Waa.
In the latest incident, a shotgun and three rifles, along with the gun safe, were stolen while the Warialda locals were away for just over two hours on Wednesday.
Thieves hit the property on Mosquito Creek Rd, Warialda, between 10.45am and 1.15pm and forensic police have searched for clues.
Barwon crime manager Detective Inspector Gavin Rattenbury believes the thieves knew what they were looking for.
“There are no doubts that’s these locations are targeted by people who are probably aware of the movement of the residents,” he said.
Detective Inspector Rattenbury said despite regular police checks, gun owners must remain vigilant for suspicious activity around their homes.
“Licensed and law-abiding holders are targeted by offenders in the community,” he said.
“It’s not the first time this has occurred.
“Firearms holders need to keep an eye out on any suspicious activities.”
An audit of every single firearms holder in the state wrapped up last year to ensure their gun storages and paperwork were up to scratch.
Despite this, investigators warn there are people out there hunting guns.
“Firearms holders shouldn’t advertise the fact that they have firearms,” Detectives Inspector Rattenbury warned.
“That includes showing the memberships on cars. They should refrain from doing so.
“It’s not a good idea ... there are offenders out there who do want to identify firearms holders.”
Officers have long maintained that stolen firearms can be very difficult to track once they hit the black market.
And authorities state there are no second chances.
“This command has a zero tolerance to any breaches of the firearms legislation,” Detective Inspector Rattenbury said.
“There are penalties for possessing unregistered firearms, or safes that don’t meet the standard for storage requirements and that goes for transporting them as well.
“We have had occasions where firearms have been left in vehicles and stolen.”
Police said the latest incident is a timely reminder for all firearms holders to ensure all guns and safes are adequately secured because police can come knocking at any time. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the stolen firearms or any suspicious activity is urged to contact local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.