07/14/2016 03:17 EDT | Updated 07/14/2016 03:59 EDT

Saskatchewan Police Note Huge Increase In Gun Seizures

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Police in Prince Albert, Sask., say gang and drug activity in the city has led to a significant increase in gun seizures.

So far this year, officers have seized 52 firearms, including five this month alone, compared to 19 for the same period last year.

Police Chief Troy Cooper says several of the guns have no serial numbers, or are untraceable.

He says most of the weapons are shotguns and hunting rifles which have had their barrels cut back to make them easier to conceal.

The hike in seizures started last September.

Officers acting with greater caution

Cooper says as a result, his officers are acting with greater caution during traffic stops and while making arrests, not just in cases where they suspect guns are present.

Police said in one of the latest cases involving a firearm, someone pointed a shotgun at a person on a bicycle near a shopping mall. Three men were later arrested.

The chief said police are not exactly sure where the guns are coming from.

"It's been a startling trend that's been growing very quickly,'' said Cooper. "When people read about that or when they hear a gun fired it causes them to have less of a sense of safety in their own home, and that's something we're concerned about.''

"It's been a startling trend that's been growing very quickly."

He also said the department's drug unit has increased its enforcement by 16 per cent so far this year.

"We're on top of it, we're doing our best to investigate the offences that are leading to possession of weapons.''

Prince Albert isn't the only city experiencing an increase in gun activity. Cooper said based on conversations with his counterparts in Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary, the problem is spreading across Western Canada. (CJLR, CJWW)

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