Australia’s underground market for firearms has ballooned in the past decade and gun-related crime, concentrated in some particular areas, is on the rise.
Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs are hotspots for firearms offenders while Sydney’s west also has alarming data.
Source: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics/Crime Statistics Agency/The New Daily
The Melbourne municipality of Hume, which takes in the suburbs of Broadmeadows, Gladstone Park and Jacana, has more firearms offenders than any other location in Australia’s two biggest cities – Melbourne and Sydney – according to police statistics.
Police attribute the high data numbers in the area to Middle Eastern gangs.
“We know Middle Eastern organised crime groups and other organised crime groups predominantly residing in the north west metro region who are actively engaged in drug-related trafficking and are using firearms to settle drug debts and to intimidate others,” a Victoria police spokesperson told The New Daily.
There were 231 charges laid by Victoria Police against City of Hume residents in the 12 months to the end of June, up almost 200 per cent in a decade.
Meanwhile, the City of Casey, which includes the suburbs of Cranbourne and Berwick on the south-eastern fringe of Melbourne, wasn’t far behind – it had 226 charges laid on residents.
In third spot, just one behind Casey, was Brimbank. Taking in the suburbs of Keilor and Sunshine in Melbourne’s west, Brimbank residents attracted 225 charges for firearms offences last year.
While most Victorian firearms offenders live in metropolitan Melbourne, police say that farms are a growing source of illegally acquired guns.
“There is a concerning trend in Victoria around firearm theft from rural properties,” the spokesperson said.
“These firearms are circulating into the hands of unregistered and unlicensed people who clearly don’t want them for lawful purposes.”
NSW also has its own firearm hotspots, primarily in the outer Sydney suburbs such as Blacktown, Liverpool and Bankstown.
According to NSW police, unoccupied hobby farms in rural parts of the state are increasingly being targeted by gun thieves in particular.
“There has been an increase in the theft of firearms from registered owners from rural properties, particularly in the Riverina, as remote or ‘vacant’ hobby farms provide thieves with ample time to search and locate firearms,” said NSW firearms squad detective superintendent Mick Plotecki.