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Vic police concerned about illegal stun gun imports
Alison Caldwell reported this story on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 12:15:00

ELEANOR HALL: In Victoria police say they're concerned about a significant increase in the number of illegal stun guns.

Police chief commissioner Ken Lay says police are noticing an increase in the use of illegal home made and imported stun guns and has suggested law makers consider increasing penalties.

In Melbourne over the weekend a man was temporarily paralysed and robbed by a group of men armed with a stun gun.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: In what's believed to be the first attack of its kind in Victoria, Melbourne man Richard McKenzie was attacked with a stun gun during a robbery late on Saturday night in the city's inner north.

RICHARD MCKENZIE: I felt like just like my legs went out from under me. I didn't have any control whatsoever so I just, I just hit the ground.

ALISON CALDWELL: He said he tried to hold onto his bag but couldn't.

RICHARD MCKENZIE: More shocking than anything else, no pun intended, like my arms and legs just wouldn't work, I couldn't grip anything, I couldn't hold onto my bag, I couldn't stand up.

ALISON CALDWELL: Police in Victoria say while this is believed to be the first robbery involving a stun gun here, they are noticing an increase in the number of illegally imported and locally manufactured stun guns in the state.

Chief commissioner Ken Lay.

KEN LAY: Well certainly in recent times we've seen an increase in the number of these devices coming into Australia. We believe some are actually being manufactured in Australia as well. There is some evidence to indicate that they are being made by some people.

We do know also that you can go onto the internet and get access to these and if people wish to run the gauntlet of customs, they can take the chance of trying to import these.

Now there's significant financial penalties for possessing these instruments but that, at this stage, doesn't deter some, to import them, make them, and use them in criminal offences.

ALISON CALDWELL: In Sydney this year, there have been three robberies involving stun guns. Last year Customs seized more than 1100 stun guns coming into Australia.

Ken Lay says the increasing trend suggests more needs to be done to address the issue.

KEN LAY: There may well be some opportunities for legislation to tighten these up. Of course there's a Commonwealth issue about importing these devices. So we'll do some thinking about how we might influence that.

ALISON CALDWELL: Speaking to ABC Local Radio in Melbourne this morning, chief commissioner of police, Ken Lay, said unregulated and illegal stun guns are extremely dangerous compared to the Tasers used by police.

KEN LAY: It is a worrying trend and particularly when these devices aren't in any way calibrated to ensure that they don't kill or seriously injure. You'd be aware that the devices, the Taser device that we use are carefully calibrated so they present a minimal risk.

But these devices that are unregulated - who knows what damage they might be able to do.

ALISON CALDWELL: The maximum penalty for importing a stun gun is $275,000 or ten years in jail.

ELEANOR HALL: Alison Caldwell.