Strike Force Eddenville set up to investigate the theft of dozens of rifles and shotguns from a Newcastle West storage shed

A POLICE strike force has been set up to investigate the theft of more than 40 rifles and shotguns from a secure storage facility in Newcastle West in one of the largest gun heists in the state’s history.

Specialist detectives from the State Crime Command’s Firearms Squad have taken over Strike Force Eddenville from Newcastle City investigators as they hunt down the cunning thieves who broke into the Kennards Self Storage facility on Hunter Street.

The targeted raid on December 5 saw thieves break into an unknown number of gun safes to get to the firearms and ammunition.

The sting was discovered about 11pm and a crime scene established as senior police were called in.

Police would not elaborate on the exact number of guns stolen, however Fairfax Media understands more than 40 firearms were taken.

All of the stolen guns were long-arms - rifles and shotguns of different calibres.

No handguns or pistols were taken.

The theft represents the largest gun heist in the Hunter’s recent criminal history, and is understood to be one of the biggest ever in the state.

Senior police have privately raised concerns about the number of firearms now flooding the black market at a time when demand, and prices, are high.

The Hunter’s gun crime has also been on the rise, with four armed robberies in 10 days involving firearms.

Strike Force Eddenville detectives have reviewed closed circuit television footage from the storage facility at the time of the raid.

Police would not comment on Friday about possible lines of investigation.

However, there is little doubt the attack was targeted and fears have increased about similar raids on other secure storage facilities across the region.

Calls by Fairfax Media to Kennards Self Storage on Friday for comment were not returned.