CELINA — The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of revising policies on firearms stored in vehicles, following the theft of several weapons from a detective's car earlier this week and subsequent arrest of a man.
The sheriff’s office reported earlier this week that several items were stolen from an unmarked vehicle while it was parked at Zuma Automotive, including a sheriff’s office Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun with ammunition, two Glock .40 caliber handgun magazines and extra ammunition.
The shotgun was returned to the sheriff’s office on Thursday, and Paul Michael Hiser, 37, of Celina, was arrested for theft Thursday evening.
A bullet-resistant badge, a black briefcase with evidence collection materials and a winter jacket with a breast badge were also stolen from the unmarked vehicle. It was unclear if these items are still missing.
Sheriff Jeff Grey said firearms in marked patrol vehicles are kept in the passenger compartment for easy access when needed, and they’re secured with locked storage racks. However, unmarked vehicles carry firearms in other locations in an attempt to be as accessible as possible.
“We believe that the detective’s car that was broken into was a random theft from a vehicle, and the suspect did not know at the time that it was a detective’s car,” Grey said in a prepared statement.
The sheriff’s office is now considering installing gun safes in the trunks of the unmarked vehicles to deter future thefts. Until then, firearms have been removed from all unmarked vehicles and are being stored in the sheriff’s office armory.