Territorial government departments are examining how staff store firearms after the latest incident of theft from facilities in Fort Smith.
A three-day police operation at the start of March ended with the arrest of a 17-year-old said by RCMP to be a suspect “in a series of break-and-enters” in which a vehicle and “multiple long-barrel firearms” were stolen.
The territorial government has since acknowledged guns were taken from the town’s Department of Lands office.
In a written response to Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby, lands minister Shane Thompson said both the Department of Lands and Department of Environment and Natural Resources – where a similar break-in occurred in 2019 – were reviewing their procedures.
In the latest incident, Thompson said, “all firearms and ammunition were safely and securely stored in compliance with both federal legislation and the Department of Lands firearms policy.”
The minister provided no detail about how the March break-in occurred, but said the 2019 break-in at Fort Smith’s ENR office had involved someone using bolt-cutters and a pry bar to open a safe. Those guns were later recovered by RCMP.
After that 2019 break-in, Thompson said, security systems had been installed at ENR offices. “The system in Fort Smith proved beneficial in a more recent break-in at the Fort Smith regional office that deterred an individual after they broke in and set off the alarm,” he wrote.
Whether Department of Lands offices have such security systems was not specified in the letter.
“Lands and ENR will work together as they review the storage of firearms in regional offices,” Thompson said.
“We do not wish there to be a repeat of this type of criminal activity in our offices and will use this as an opportunity to determine what, if anything, could have been done differently to mitigate any future events.”