HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Howey in the Hills' Police Chief, Rick Thomas, said someone stole a department-issued rifle from inside one of his officer's unmarked, locked patrol SUV's this weekend.
Chief Rick Thomas said "They broke the driver's window out, hit the power lock, it allowed them access to the entire vehicle."
Chief Thomas said the vehicle was parked in an officers driveway overnight. He added the break in was discovered the next morning. In addition to the rifle, he says two bulletproof vests, and 4 loaded magazines were stolen.
"We don't know what their intent is, and that's what's very alarming," he said.
The Chief said his officer did nothing wrong by storing the rifle in a soft-case, which is in a vehicle that doesn't have a locking device.
"The gun was stored in accordance with our policy," he chief said.
Chief Thomas said he will make a chance to current policy on securing guns in patrol cars, and may require officers to simply bring them inside at night.
"Right now, I'm going to review the policy, look at different locking mechanisms," Thomas explained.
The chief said the rifle and vests can be tracked by serial number, and he has a warning for whoever stole them.
"The smartest thing for them to do is surrender that weapon, those vests and all the other equipment," He said.
The chief is hoping his officer's equipment doesn't end up on the black market. The chief added the suspect(s) could face felony charges including grand theft, plus potentially several years in prison.