Note: At meetings over past years, could never get ATF to comment
on, or talk about stolen firearms that end up in Mexico. Including
such areas as gun stores being robbed/burgled, ( there have been
many) from law enforcement, collectors, and homes. Also of interest
that LAPD has experts in gun theft. In the border states it is
commonly believed or understood that stolen firearms usually end up
in Mexico. Any competent machine shop can easily do any conversions,
not only of these, but just about anything. Still need FOIA to get
info on traces done.
Submachine guns, handguns stolen from LAPD SWAT-training site
Police officials confirm that more than 30 firearms, stored overnight
at a building considered secure, were stolen. 'It's embarrassing....
It's a lesson learned,' Deputy Chief Michael Downing says.
By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
October 17, 2011
A cache of Los Angeles Police Department submachine guns and handguns
was stolen last week from a secured building used by the department's
SWAT unit, raising fears that the weapons, which police had altered
to fire only blanks, could be converted back to lethal use, police
The weapons, which include 21 MP-5 submachine guns and 12 large
caliber handguns, were moved Wednesday night to a multistory building
at 14th and San Pedro streets downtown and stored in a locked box on
the building's first floor, said LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing.
Members of the SWAT unit, which specializes in hostage rescues and
other high-risk situations, were scheduled to train at the facility
Thursday, Downing said. A police officer arriving at the building
around 9 a.m. Thursday discovered the weapons were missing, according
to Downing. The officer also found electrical equipment stacked near
a back door, indicating the burglars may still have been working and
fled when the officer arrived.
Downing said the building, although not a guarded LAPD facility, was
considered secure. To get to the weapons, the thieves cut through
bolt locks on an outside door and two internal doors and forced their
way through a metal roll gate, he said.
"I guess 'secure' is all relative now," he said. "It's
embarrassing.... It's a lesson learned."
The theft was particularly awkward because it involved the SWAT unit,
one of the most prestigious assignments in the department and one
whose members are trained to methodically think through the possible
outcomes of situations before acting.
When told about the weapons theft, other LAPD officers, who asked
that their names not be used because they did not want to criticize
fellow cops publicly, questioned why the weapons weren't simply kept
at SWAT's headquarters, about a mile from the training site. "Even
with some locked doors, they should have seen this as a possibility,"
As a rule, Downing said, officers are not supposed to leave weapons
unattended at the building. He added that "appropriate measures" had
been taken in response to the gaffe but would not specify if anyone
had been disciplined. He said officials are also reviewing SWAT's
procedures for using the building to see if changes are needed.
The building, which once housed textile companies, was donated to the
department. Inside, the department put up walls and made other
changes in order to create realistic scenarios for training
exercises. They did not install an alarm system or surveillance cameras.
Shortly after the break-in was discovered, detectives from the LAPD's
local police station and forensic technicians were summoned to the
building, but several hours passed before Downing and other senior
LAPD officials were made aware of the breach. When Downing finally
learned of the stolen weapons about five hours later, he ordered
investigators with expertise in gun thefts to take over the case, he
Those investigators are "working on leads," Downing said. He declined
to elaborate but added that he believes the weapons will be found.
It was no secret that the facility, named the Kennedy Building after
its owner, was used by SWAT for training. The officers could be seen
coming and going and sometimes put on public demonstrations there.
That raised the possibility that the thieves had been surveilling the
Asked whether there was any indication that the burglary was an
inside job involving LAPD officers, Downing declined to comment,
except to say, "We're not ruling anything out."
"You wonder if this was a planned operation, what information they
had, whether they were conducting surveillance," Downing said.
About a month ago, a woman was seen photographing the building, which
triggered an investigation by the officers from the department's
counter-terrorism division, according to Downing. That incident
appears unrelated to the break-in, but investigators are continuing
to investigate, he said.
The obvious concern is that whoever stole the weapons will convert
them from firing blanks to using live ammunition. Downing
acknowledged that was "definitely a possibility" but said that to do
so would require an understanding of the inner workings of the weapons.
Gun experts and online tutorials suggest, however, that the process
is relatively simple and requires only a few parts. The company that
manufactures the conversion kits used by the LAPD has an
instructional video on its website that walks a viewer through the
steps of returning an MP-5 to its original form in about five minutes.
The parts required to change the MP-5 back to live firing were for
sale on a gun supply website. It was unclear, however, what
documentation or background checks would be required to purchase them.
The idea that nearly three dozen high-powered submachine guns and .45-
caliber handguns could make their way onto the black market or be put
to use by criminals worried LAPD officials enough that they notified
law enforcement agencies in the region.
"This is a big deal," Downing said. "We're concerned. We want to