Cape Police and officer could be liable for stolen gun

A teen suspect was recently arrested for a crime spree that involved getting his hands on a police officer’s department-issued handgun. But our investigative team wanted to know why the young thief was able to get into a police car to steal the gun in the first place. On top of that, police have not confirmed whether they have recovered the stolen gun.

Cape Coral Police Department recently arrested 16-year-old Cylis Martin for a spree of car break-ins, including one car burglary when he stolen a Cape officer’s gun out of his police cruiser.

MORE: Teen Arrest: Accused of crime spree, stealing police gun

The officer could be in trouble for losing the gun and even face a suspension if he didn’t have a good reason for leaving it in his department vehicle.

Dr. Dave Thomas, an FGCU criminal justice professor with a Ph.D. in forensic psychology, is also a firearms instructor, and he said police cars are targeted on purpose.

“I’m not trying to make excuses, but I think the things we need to take into consideration is that cops are human beings,” Thomas said. “And if this was a legitimate mistake, it does happen. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it surely isn’t the last time it is going to happen.”

We don’t know if there was a legitimate reason the Cape officer left his gun inside his vehicle. There could have been a reason for it: He might have been at a school function off duty and had to leave his weapon in his car.

CCPD’s policy for its officers is similar. Officers are required to store handguns in a safe manner inside their homes or in a locked cabinet at the police station.

Even though police arrested Martin, there is no indication in the arrest report that detectives recovered the stolen gun.

In 2017, we discovered seven Southwest Florida law enforcement weapons were taken from vehicles during a three-year period, and none were recovered. A few months after our initial investigation, several more weapons were stolen from a car at a Lee County deputies’ home. Some of those weapons were never recovered.

MORE: Weapons stolen from cruiser at Lee County deputy’s home

In the most recent Cape burglary, police said Martin not only got the officer’s gun but his taser, handcuffs, a tactical vest and some body armor.

An internal affairs investigation is actively looking into the incident, so police will not confirm details at this time,

We asked Thomas about liability and responsibility that could fall on CCPD for the lost weapon.

“Sure, there can be,” Thomas said. “The greater liability goes back to the agency, but also the officer is going to be responsible for it as well because it’s his mistake.”

MORE: Weapons stolen from SWFL law enforcement in car break-ins

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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