NORTH PORT — A sniper rifle, service weapon and SWAT equipment were stolen from a Sarasota County Sheriff's detective car at his home in North Port.
That detective is under investigation after apparently leaving his police vehicle unlocked.
The weapons included a a Sig Saur 226, which is the 9mm duty weapon, and an Accuracy International AT 308 sniper rifle - along with an undisclosed amount of ammunition.
"To say that I'm upset would be mild," Knight said. "We now have a sniper rifle on the street now because of the negligence."
The officer involved, Brian Keane, has been on the force for 18 years, with a decade of duty involving the SWAT team.
Keane informed the department he'd apparently left his vehicle unlocked in the driveway of his North Port home on Monday evening. By Tuesday morning, the weapons and other SWAT related equipment was gone.
Citing policy, Knight said the address of the home wouldn't be disclosed when it comes to addresses of law enforcement personal.
He said he'd have his office give a general area of where the crime was committed in North Port, but that was not received by press time.
Citing policy, Knight also blasted Keane's mistake - saying in no way should a SWAT weapon be left inside any vehicle overnight, even if it's locked.
If an officer has those types of weapons, they are to be brought inside to a home and locked up for the night, he said.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has launched an internal investigation, according to an email from Sheriff's Office Community Affairs Director Kaitlyn Perez.
Suncoast Weapons and Tactical LLC manager Chas Sizemore described the AT 308 as a bolt-action hunting rifle.
He said, even in the wrong hands, The AT 308 is not the typical gun for criminal activities.
The Sig Saur would be more likely used to commit a crime, he said.
From his Venice store, Sizemore said AT 308 ammunition that can pierce armor is highly regulated and hard to come by.
Sizemore noted it's a felony for a pawn shop to buy a gun that has had any sort of serial numbers removed. Sizemore said a news release he received on the stolen guns said they'd not only have serial number but also property of the sheriff's office markings.
Knight was incredulous about the negligence, telling the Sun the sheriff's office is often reminding everyday citizens to lock up their vehicles. And yet, a longtime sheriff's employee failed to take that simple step.
"Weapons are not to be left in the car per policy. They're supposed to go into the residence, especially this type of weapon," Knight said.
In the email, Perez said it is the office's policy to have deputies lock their vehicle after exiting.
When it comes to weapons it depends on the type of weapon and the type of vehicle.
Perez said in the past decade, an officers vehicle had been broken into only two or three times.
Perez said if there is an official weapons violation, it will be determined by the investigation.
"There is no excuse for it, we'll deal with it internally," Knight said.
While the crime took place within North Port city limits, the sheriff's office is taking the lead in the investigation, Knight said.
The office is asking for help from the public with any information about the burglary. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS or through one of the sheriff's office's social media platforms.