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Feds: DHS agent leaves car unlocked; M4 assault rifle, tactical vest stolen

Federal prosecutors said Russell Lawrence, a heroin addict who was taking items from unlocked cars, took the rifle from the vehicle, along with two 30-round rifle magazines and a tactical police vest. (Photo: MCSO)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent who lives in Brighton had his agency-issued .223 assault rifle stolen out of his unlocked car back in September, according to federal court paperwork.

Federal prosecutors said Russell Lawrence, a heroin addict who was taking items from unlocked cars, took the rifle from the vehicle, along with two 30-round rifle magazines and a tactical police vest.

The DHS agent notified the Brighton Police department about the thefts. Several others cars happened in the same neighborhood on that night.

A few weeks later, Lawrence's brother Anthony was arrested by Webster Police inside a stolen vehicle. Anthony told police that Russell had stolen items out of vehicles. According to court paperwork, Anthony also added he had recently seen Russell with a machine gun and police vest.

On November 6, Monroe County Sheriff's deputies said they arrested Russell after he stole and crashed a car in Parma.

Russell later told deputies he had sold the gun and vest to a drug dealer in Rochester the same night he stole them, according to court paperwork. Russell was given $750 for the two items - half in cash, and half in heroin.

Russell also told deputies he had been addicted to drugs for nine years and used three to four bags of heroin each day. To support his addiction, Russell allegedly broke into open cars and stole items from Wegmans to sell them.

He had three felony convictions and was sentenced to probation or parole for all three crimes.

Russell Lawrence was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and possession of a stolen firearm.

The whereabouts of the weapon is unknown. The employment status of the DHS agent is also unknown.

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