'Good Samaritan' couple returns missing Salem police rifle
January 07. 2015 2:21PM
SALEM — A 'good Samaritan' couple returned a missing rifle to Salem police Wednesday afternoon that had been lost by a police officer. The officer had left the Colt M4 Commando 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle atop his cruiser's trunk as he headed out for patrol Tuesday afternoon.
The officer, who was not identified in a news release asking for the public's help in finding the rifle, put the patrol rifle, which was stored in a black canvas carrying bag, on the trunk of his cruiser about 3:45 p.m. as he was preparing for duty, according to the release.
He drove out of the station, forgetting to put the rifle in his trunk. He was sent out on several calls after leaving the parking lot.
Police believe the bag containing the rifle fell off the trunk as he drove out of the parking lot.
The officer did not notice the rifle missing until the end of his shift, about 11:45 p.m., the release said .
He immediately notified his supervisors and an extensive search began.
Police believe the rifle might have fallen off the cruiser in the area of Veterans Memorial Parkway through the Depot area or around the Howard Street block, the first area where the officer was dispatched.
Officers searched the area extensively but came up empty. Investigators believe someone might have picked up the bag and might not know what do with the rifle, according to the release issued Wednesday morning.
Police are asking that “good Samaritan” to return the rifle to them or call them at 603-893-1911 and they will pick it up with no questions asked.
If uncomfortable with dealing with law enforcement, police said the rifle can be turned into a local gun shop or any other safe place to ensure its return.
The rifle is a Colt M4 Commando 5.56mm semi-automatic only patrol carbine with an 11.5-inch barrel.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives classifies the rifle as a “Short Barreled Rifle.”
Police warn there are severe penalties for possessing this weapon without the express approval of BATFE.
The rifle also has the lower receiver stamped with “Restricted Government/Law Enforcement/Export Use Only”.
In the news release, police said they “fully understand the significant public safety risk posed by the loss of this rifle. This is undoubtedly a failure to follow established policy and procedures. We are embarrassed as an agency and no one feels worse than the officer who lost the bag.”
An internal investigation will be conducted as well as a review of the department's practices to ensure that it will not occur again, according to police.