POLICE have urged owners of firearms to properly register and store them, following a seizure at Oak Flats last week.
The message has also been reinforced by firearm safety trainers, with a view to preventing unsecured firearms being used in serious crimes later on.
Lake Illawarra Police last week seized 78 guns from an Oak Flats firearms dealership, laying a range of charges against the company including possessing unregistered weapons and other licence breaches.
Officers laid 12 charges against the company last Tuesday, including two charges of possessing an unregistered firearm, four counts of failing to record transactions, five counts of failing to keep labels and records, and possessing a firearm or gun with a defaced or altered ID.
A suspension notice was served on a male director of the business.
The matters will be heard before Albion Park Local Court on February 6.
Lake Illawarra Local Area Command Licensing Sergeant Gary Keevers said registered owners not storing firearms properly in accordance with the Firearms Act 1996 had a wide-reaching impact.
Sergeant Keevers said the greatest issue the command faced with regard to firearms was the number stolen from residential properties during break-ins that were potentially used to commit serious crimes.
"We have an unacceptable number of guns being stolen from residential properties," he said.
"People need to be mindful of safe storage requirements, licensing and registration."
"We've had armed robberies in the Kiama area recently, and those weapons could have come from a break-in on a premises where the gun wasn't stored properly."
In 2009, the command estimated they had 2111 locations where firearms were registered to audit, for a combined total of more than 10,000 guns.
They have completed about 1690 audits.
Sergeant Keevers reminded the public that if they came across an unregistered gun, they can hand it into police to be destroyed, without fear of prosecution.
"If they bring in a gun and then want to register it, we have to interview them and investigate the gun's history," he said.
Wayne Beckett, president of the Schuetzenklub Illawarra at Albion Park Rail, agreed.
"We have a lot of registered and licensed shooters that don't understand the importance of keeping things safe," he said.
Mr Beckett is also a registered firearms safety training officer, regularly conducting licensing training.People with questions about safekeeping and firearms licensing can phone Mr Beckett on 0418 423 816.