Following a recent very nasty robbery, the Metropolitan Police have asked all the major National Governing Bodies of shooting to circulate advice. The NRA earnestly requests its members to accept and follow the advice, and to pass it on to other firearm owners.
On Saturday 5th September 2020 a firearm certificate holder advertised a gun for sale on GunStar, one of the well-known sites for sales of lawfully owned guns. The advert was answered by two men and the holder arranged for a meeting at his home address. He invited the potential “buyers” into his home where he showed the gun and his certificate. Sadly what happened next would have been a shock to any person. The “buyers” were in fact criminals who proceeded to hold the certificate holder at knife point, tie him and his wife up and then instruct him to load the gun for them. They then left the household, leaving the holder bound.
The police ask us to remind firearms owners that there are criminals who are also reviewing sites like GunStar. It is easy to assume, incorrectly, that purported buyers have the same enthusiasm for the sport as they do. This is not always the case.
To reduce risk of another such crime, the police offer the following, and ask for our assistance to make crimes of this type more difficult to perpetrate and with joint effort, avoid a repetition. They emphasise this is advice; it is not guidance or regulation, and is provided to suggest options:
- Try to check certificates prior to any meeting. A genuine buyer should not object to, for instance, sending an electronic image of their certificate. That includes a photograph of the holder which can be compared with the person at the door, before any entry is allowed into the home.
- Try to complete a sale away from your home. At home, a criminal has access to the entire contents of your safe; a better location may be at your local shooting club as more people will be present. This may be the deterrent needed to prevent the criminal brazen behaviour.
- Advertise locally within your club environment rather than online.
- Ideally use an RFD as a conduit for sale. This is by far the safest option, and while the cost is understood, the risk to holder is entirely negated.
This robbery was shocking for the holder. The police ask for our help to prevent any further, similar incidents.