A cache of 21 MP-5 submachine guns and 12 large caliber handguns were stolen last week from the LAPD's SWAT unit. The weapons, which were altered to fire only blanks, could be converted back to lethal use, say police.
Gun experts and online tutorials suggest the process is relatively simple and requires only a few parts. The company that manufactures the conversion kits used by the LAPD has an instructional video on its website that walks a viewer through the steps of returning an MP-5 to its original form in about five minutes.
According to the L.A. Times, LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing said that the weapons were moved Wednesday night to a multistory building in downtown Los Angeles and stored in a locked box on the building's first floor. The building is not a guarded LAPD facility, but was still considered secure, even though the LAPD did not install an alarm system or surveillance cameras.
"I guess 'secure' is all relative now," Downing said. "It's embarrassing.... It's a lesson learned."
Downing said officers are not supposed to leave weapons unattended at the building. He added that "appropriate measures" had been taken in response to the gaffe, but would not specify if anyone had been disciplined. He said investigators are "working on leads."
Asked whether the Thursday burglary was an inside job involving LAPD officers, Downing declined to comment, except to say, "We're not ruling anything out."
"You wonder if this was a planned operation, what information they had, whether they were conducting surveillance. This is a big deal. We're concerned. We want to recover (the weapons)."