$5K reward offered in case of fully automatic rifle stolen from NC officer’s car

WINNABOW, NC (WECT) — The Wilmington Police Department is offering a Crimestoppers reward of up to $5,000 to anyone with information on a car break-in that happened over the weekend resulting in the theft of police-issued equipment, including a gun, a bulletproof vest and ammunition.

According to a heavily redacted report from the Leland Police Department, the break-in was reported at a home in Winnabow on Sept. 30. The Wilmington Police Department said the crime happened at the home of an undercover officer.

The report from Leland lists the items stolen as an M4 rifle, soft rifle case, tactical mounted light for M4, scope, infrared laser, bulletproof vest (valued at $1,500), Taser, a hand-held radio, two 15-round handgun magazines and five M4 magazines (30 rounds).

EARLIER: Government-owned fully automatic rifle, bulletproof vest, more stolen from car in NC

In total, the value of the items stolen is estimated to be around $4,500.

The thief broke in through the driver side rear passenger window, according to the report.

Leland Police directed all questions about the break-in to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Wilmington Police Department also said ATF is leading the investigation.

Although initially saying Wednesday afternoon it was not an ATF investigation, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday morning the agency was working with the WPD and Leland Police Department, but declined to comment further, citing an on-going investigation.

“Our investigators are working closely with ATF and the Leland Police Department to find the individuals responsible for this theft and to recover the weapon and equipment that were stolen,” said Chief Ralph Evangelous. “If anyone has any information about this crime we encourage you to use Text-a-Tip or Crimestoppers.”

You can reach Crimestoppers by calling 910-763-3888. Callers’ identity is completely anonymous. You may also call the Leland Police Department with information.

WPD is also conducting an internal investigation to determine if the officer secured the weapon and equipment properly. Officials said no other weapons were stolen from our inventory, and no personnel action has been taken since this incident happened.

A WPD spokesperson said there would be no further comment at this time.

After a rash of vehicle break-ins in the Wilmington area in August in which several firearms were stolen, Evangelous pleaded to the public to remove guns from their cars.

“It’s a problem, one of which we’ve got to get a handle on,” Evangelous said at the time. “Come on folks, take your guns in the house. Give us a break out here.

“Be responsible gun owners. Secure your weapons. People say, ‘Where are the guns coming from?’ They’re coming from your cars and your homes. Secure your weapons.”

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