A Montebello police vehicle containing a loaded AR-15 rifle and two shotguns was stolen last week and remains missing, authorities said Wednesday.
Surveillance video shows an unknown individual entering the vehicle and driving it away from the Montebello Police Department parking lot within ten seconds around 2:20 a.m. on May 17, the agency said in a news release. But the patrol vehicle, a 2018 Ford Explorer with all the usual black and white markings, was not discovered missing until Tuesday.
That was the first time in five days it had been assigned to be driven by authorized personnel, police said. The last time it was driven by officers was on May 16 at about 5 p.m.
The loaded police rifle and other two guns are all locked and secured inside the vehicle and all of its keys are accounted for, according to police. One of the shotguns was loaded with bean-bag rounds, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"We don't want any of our weapons out there for the public to get to," said Montebello Sgt. Marc Marty. And although the weapons are locked, a "specific mechanism" can be used to release them, he said.
It's apparently not the first time the Montebello Police Department has dealt with a police vehicle being stolen with firearms inside.
More than 10 years ago, in April 2009, the department offered a $10,000 reward for help tracking down an AR-15 rifle and 12-gauge shotgun taken from a stolen patrol car weeks earlier, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Known as unit #9, the missing SUV has "Montebello Police" written along both its sides and rear end and its exempt license plate number is 1429238. The number "9" and letters "MTB" is also written on the vehicle's roof, front fenders and rear, and the SUV has an overhead light bar.
Authorities are continuing to search for the patrol vehicle and investigators have reached out to local repair shops and reviewed surveillance video. The SUV has also been entered into the stolen vehicle system.
Anyone with information or tips on locating the vehicle should contact police at 323 887-1313. Callers are urged by police to call 911 if it is seen parked or moving.
Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers by dialing 800-222-8477, visiting http://www.lacrimestoppers.org or downloading the "P3 Tips" app on the Apple or Google Play Store.