NORTH PORT (FOX 13) - Deputies are looking for the burglars who stole firearms and other items from an unlocked Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office detective's vehicle overnight.
Among the stolen items was an Accuracy International AT308 sniper rifle.
The agency said the burglary happened sometime between Monday evening and early Tuesday morning.
"The suspect or suspects, in this case, stole pretty much everything that's in his vehicle. That includes his duty weapon that he carries and a high powered rifle that was in his vehicle," explained Community Affairs Director with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Kaitlyn Perez. "In addition to some specialized equipment. He is a member of the SWAT team so he specifically has a sniper rifle in his vehicle. That has been removed and we have concerns about that getting into the wrong hands."
The detective who left his vehicle unlocked is an 18-year veteran of the sheriff's office and a resident of North Port.
An internal investigation is underway. The sheriff's office said the sheriff is disappointed in the detective.
"We preach it: 'Lock your car before you go anywhere.' This detective made a poor decision and failed to do that. What's going to happen now is the investigation will move to internal affairs and they will decide if any violations occurred and, if they did and if there are sustained violations, we will address that when the time comes," Perez said.
The sheriff's office is working to round up the stolen items.
"We've deployed a lot of resources here at the agency. We are looking at pawn shops, we are looking into talking to people we know in the community. People who help us out with our investigations, we are heavily stressing the importance of finding these weapons and taking them off the street. The rifle specifically is high caliber, if it's in the wrong hands it could be traded, for example, sold or used and we hope that's not the case and it doesn't come to that," Perez said.
The sheriff's office asked anyone with information about the burglar or the location of the stolen items to call the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 861-4900 or report an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers of Sarasota at (941) 366-8477.