When the Compton, Calif., police department dissolved in 2000, its inventory of around 200 firearms ended up largely forgotten in a vault at a vacant former city hall building.
“There were some police department weapons,” Compton City Manager Cecil Rhambo told KABC. “There were some weapons with no owner on file, some weapons registered to other people, some evidence weapons there.”
After he discovered the existence of the vault in 2017, Rhambo arranged for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which took over policing duties in the city, to take possession of the firearms. But 23 Beretta .40-caliber pistols and eight Glock .40-caliber pistols turned up missing, reported the Los Angeles Daily News. The missing guns are former police handguns.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has launched an investigation, with a $10,000 reward offered for information on the missing guns, the publication reported.
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Authorities believe the weapons were stolen sometime between March 6, when deputies inventoried the cache of firearms, and Aug. 31, 2017, when they returned to pick the weapons up for transfer to the Sheriff’s Department, according to the Daily News.
The firearms were stored in a vault with heavy metal doors and a combination lock, reported KABC.
“There were several people at the time who were working who had the combination,” Rhambo told the station. “I had access to the combination. But over the years I have no idea the number over 17 years who still had access to that combination.”
The vacant former city hall had no security cameras, KABC reported.
The city of Compton, south of downtown Los Angeles, has a population of 96,000.