Use of toy guns to commit crimes a concern for SAPS

Some replicas could pass off as the real thing with victims or even police officers none the wiser.

Police say this pellet gun is so realistic that it could easily be mistaken for a real gun. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - It's become an all too common occurrence for criminals to use fake guns to commit offences.

Some replicas could pass off as the real thing, with victims or even police officers none the wiser.

Last week, a 15-year-old pupil from Eldorado Park in southern Johannesburg was arrested for allegedly threatening his teacher with what's believed to be a toy gun.

LISTEN: Grassy Park CPF calls for total ban of toy gun replicas

Eyewitness News spoke to a senior South African Police Service (SAPS) officer about how difficult it is to tell the difference between a replica and a genuine firearm.

One of the only ways you'd be able to tell the difference between a firearm and its replica is while staring down the barrel of the gun.

The police's Andre Traut compares a full black police-issued Beretta 9-millimetre pistol with a replica.

“If you compare the two, it’s very similar. You can look at the front of the barrel and the replica one won’t look very authentic at the front. Overall, under stressful conditions you’re being held up, you’ll probably believe you’re being robbed with a real firearm.”

Traut says that an attacker drawing a replica firearm on a victim to commit a crime can be charged with the pointing of a firearm, even though it's not real.

“A concern for the South African Police Service is the person who buys it and uses it to create the impression that it’s a real firearm.”

VIDEO: Gun games: Telling the difference between real & toy guns

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)