The FBI’s Boston division is offering a $20,000 reward for the recovery of two high-
powered rifles that were stolen some time Wednesday night in Andover from an FBI SWAT emergency response vehicle.
The bureau said that a Colt M16-A1 Rifle and an HS Precision Pro-Series 2000 Sniper Rifle were stolen from the parked vehicle some time between Wednesday evening and early Thursday.
The FBI did not identify the agent who was responsible for the vehicle and the weapons. The bureau only said that the SWAT vehicle was parked in a residential neighborhood, and it was not there as part of an investigation or operation.
The bureau added in a statement that “during that same time, items were stolen from other vehicles parked at nearby homes in Andover.”
The statement said, “The FBI continues to devote significant resources to locate these weapons, determine who stole them and remove them from the possession of the unauthorized individuals(s) who may have them.”
Damon Katz, chief counsel for the FBI’s Boston division, said in an interview that authorities are conducting an internal investigation into the theft.
He did not say whether the weapons were properly stored or whether the agent was allowed to keep them in the vehicle.
“It is allowed with proper authorization and following proper methodology, so it’s a case-by-case basis,” Katz said.
He would not elaborate on the agent’s circumstances, citing the internal probe.
The Gun Owners Action League advises members that state law requires that guns left in cars be locked in a container or a trunk. The weapon must also be unloaded.
A draft Boston Police Department policy on the storing of assault rifles and shotguns states that they should be kept in a gun locker in the district station when not in use. If the weapon is in a car, it should be kept in a locked container and the officer should take steps to ensure that no unauthorized person can get access to it.
Andover police Lieutenant William Ouellette would not comment on the guns theft or the other reported robberies in the neighborhood, referring questions to the FBI.
The bureau said that it properly notified other authorities of the theft and that other law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigation.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at MValencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia.