Weapons stolen from Contra Costa Sheriffs

January 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Three times in three weeks high-powered weapons were stolen from East Bay police cruisers. The Contra Costa Sheriff's Department has been hit. The two most recent thefts were overnight in Martinez and Richmond. That's on top of a third incident last month at the CHP office in Martinez. These crooks seem to have knowledge of police procedure.

At the Sheriff's operations building, where deputies park their patrol cars, a large hole was cut through the fence in the back of the lot.

Sometime between 11 p.m. Monday night and 6 a.m. someone cut through the fence at the Contra Costa County Sheriff's operation building, in Martinez. They broke into several patrol cars and stole a 12 gauge shotgun and three semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifles.

"There was some heavy equipment that was used. Anything from a saw to some other pry tools that were used to forcibly enter the vehicles," said Captain Daniel Terry, from the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department.

There was no fence to cut through at the Sheriff department's Bay Station in Richmond. During the same hours, someone smashed out the window of another patrol car and made off with a 12 gauge shotgun. Lt. Ron Bradley says it was locked into the gun rack.

"And it's electronically powered. All I can tell you for sure is the wires from the lock had been pulled loose of their normal mounting," said Lt. Ron Bradley, from the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department.
"What are the odds of this being an inside job or someone with familiarity with law enforcement?" asked ABC7's Alan Wang.
"I would say it's very possible that its somebody who's somewhat familiar with police cars and how they're set up, how they operate," said Lt. Ron Bradley, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department.

The Sheriff's Department says it does not have surveillance cameras at either station, and the vehicles are not equipped with alarms. This all sounds very familiar to the CHP. On December 16th, someone also cut through the fence at their Martinez station about a mile away. They broke into a cruiser and took off with an AR-15 assault rifle and about 120 rounds of ammunition. It's still missing.

"It's a situation in which we really had to re-access our security measures at our premises, and so this situation has really raised our awareness," said Trent Cross, a CHP spokesperson.

There have been policy changes at the CHP, and now the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department is contemplating the same thing. The ATF and the FBI are now investigating both cases.

By the way, while ABC7's Alan Wang was reporting at 11 p.m. Tuesday night, he noticed one of the gates leading to a sheriff's lot in Martinez, was left unlocked. There was a sign on the gate saying it was supposed to be locked between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.