The use of pellet, BB, airsoft and toy guns that look like real firearms in criminal activities appears to be on the rise, some law enforcement officials said.
Earlier this month, two officer-involved shooting incidents in the Sacramento region involved the use of such guns.
Experts, policy researchers and law enforcement officials The Bee interviewed said systematic data in recent years aren't available and little research has been done on the subject.
Sgt. Tim Curran, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, said he does not believe the use of imitation guns in crime is on the rise. The recent incidents – one in Lincoln and one in Rancho Cordova – are coincidences, not indication of a trend, he said.
But other police officers say they are seeing more robberies and other crimes being committed by suspects carrying imitation guns.
"We see an increase of people carrying these guns to commit a crime or scare someone," Sacramento Police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said.
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