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"Embarrassing" Theft of Over 30 Weapons from SWAT Training Site Has LAPD Worried

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Uh oh: A recent theft from a secured building has Los Angeles Police Department officials worried that over 30 weapons will be put to use in the hands of criminals. Those weapons, including "21 MP-5 submachine guns and 12 large caliber handguns," reports the L.A. Times, were stolen from a locked box used by the SWAT unit, following their transfer there on Wednesday.The facility from which the weapons were stolen is used as a training facility, and SWAT officers were due the next day to take part in activities at the site. However, an officer discovered the weapons were missing Thursday morning, and also found evidence suggested the thieves fled when they heard the officer approaching.

The building was donated to the LAPD and was modified inside to resemble typical spaces in which the SWAT team might need to deal with a suspect. There is no alarm system or any surveillance cameras set up in the building, which is located about a mile away from the SWAT offices. Some officers say they do not know why the weapons were not left at those offices up until the time of the scheduled training exercises.

LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing calls the theft "embarrassing" and a "lesson learned," when it comes to the relative security of the storage facility. "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, [Downing] said," reports the Times.

The thieves are likely to have been watching the building; LAPD SWAT officers are often seen openly entering and exiting the building. In what seems to be an unrelated episode, a woman photographing the building's exterior necessitated an investigation by the LAPD's counter-terrorism unit a few weeks ago.

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The stolen weapons are set to fire blanks, however experts suggest it is "relatively simple" to convert them back to a state wherein they can fire live rounds.

Of the lethal threat the weapons pose in the wrong hands, Downing said "This is a big deal." An investigation is underway, and Downing says they are pursing numerous leads.