Fake gun, real crime: Police notice uptick in replicas

As Ohio authorities investigate the fatal police shooting of a 13-year-old boy who officers said pulled a realistic-looking BB gun from his waistband, law enforcement agencies are grappling with suspects using fake guns to commit real crimes.

The federal government doesn’t track criminals’ use of toy or replica guns. But some police departments say they’ve noticed an uptick.

Edmonton, Canada, police say imitation guns were involved in 1,598 incidents in 2015, up 38 percent from 2014. In Arlington, Texas, suspects also are increasingly using lookalike guns.

Experts say criminals gravitate toward pellet or BB guns because they can look indistinguishable from the real thing and are cheap and easy to get.

A lookalike weapon is at the center of last week’s fatal police shooting of Tyre King in Columbus, Ohio.

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