- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Three handguns and an FBI agent’s badge were stolen early Friday from a locked and alarmed vehicle in the latest such incident in the San Francisco Bay Area, the FBI said.

Two other recent thefts in the area had tragic results after firearms stolen from law enforcement agents’ vehicles were subsequently used in slayings. The spate of incidents since July has prompted proposed state and local legislation.

Two .40 caliber Glocks and one .45 caliber handgun were stolen from an FBI vehicle parked in a residential neighborhood in Benicia, FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie said. An FBI badge, credentials and other FBI property were also taken.

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward, but Swankie offered few details about what happened, citing the ongoing investigation.

The agent and vehicle were both assigned to the FBI region headquartered in Sacramento. Although Benicia is about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, it falls within the Sacramento-based region.

Swankie couldn’t say why the agent was in Benicia, why the weapons and other FBI property were left in the vehicle overnight, or whether the agent faces discipline.

“Our primary objective is recovery of the items stolen and identification and arrest of the individuals involved,” she said. “There’s a lot of information that would be premature to offer at this time.”

Handguns stolen from law enforcement officers’ cars last year were used in the San Francisco killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in July and 27-year-old Oakland muralist Antonio Ramos in September.

Steinle was shot in the back as she walked with her father and a family friend along a popular San Francisco pier. Oakland police said Ramos was among artists working on a community mural when he was fatally shot after an apparent argument.

Separately in August, a Hayward police officer’s gun was stolen from a vehicle in Oakland and a gun belonging to the chief of the UC Berkeley police department was stolen from her car while she was jogging.

As a result, elected officials in Oakland and San Francisco have proposed new requirements for storing firearms in vehicles.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, this month introduced SB869 to require law enforcement officers to secure any handguns they leave in a vehicle. Hill said current state law exempts law enforcement officials from the same standards that apply to civilians.

His bill would require that anyone leaving a handgun in a vehicle lock it in the trunk or a locked container out of plain sight, or face a $1,000 fine.

“This is a matter of basic public safety and common sense,” Hill said in a statement before the latest incident.

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