Illawarra house shootings: no sign of trend, police say

It is the third house shooting in six weeks, but Illawarra police have denied gun crime is on the rise.

Early Sunday morning, a number of shots were fired into the window of a townhouse in Whitby Mews, Bellambi. It comes after a shot was fired during a Warilla home invasion on May 6, and a home in Koonawarra being hit by two shots on May 14, but Lake Illawarra Police Inspector Paul Allman said gun crime was not on the rise.

Bullet holes in the Whitby Mews house in Bellambi. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Bullet holes in the Whitby Mews house in Bellambi. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

"I wouldn't say we've had an increase, definitely not. It is concerning we've had as many as we have had, but generally gun crime seems to be tracking at reasonable levels," he said.

A string of armed robberies of homes, service stations and bottle shops have kept police busy recently, but figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show gun-related robbery on the decline.

In the 12 months to March 2013, there were 13 robberies with a firearm; in the 12 months to March 2014, only seven were reported. Robbery without a firearm was on the rise however, with 72 in the year to March 2014 compared to 50 the previous year. Knives and screwdrivers have been used in recent robberies.

Inspector Allman assured locals gun crime in the Illawarra was under control.

"It is obvious firearm offences cause great concern, but there hasn't been any more than usual," he said.

"There is nothing to suggest the house shootings are linked."

The news comes the same day Operation Unification launches, a national police initiative to stamp out illegal firearms.

"Many of the guns we've seized in recent times have been home-made or significantly modified. That suggests it's proving harder for some criminals to obtain the type of guns they want," said Acting State Crime Commander John Kerlatec.

Since January, 4366 firearms have been seized by or surrendered to NSW Police.

Police are urging anyone with information about illicit guns to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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