Children playing on waste ground in south Armagh found a firearm which had been dumped by burglars.
Police have described the culprits as “despicable and dangerous”.
Children playing in waste ground to the rear of Jonesborough Market found the weapon – an air rifle – on Monday afternoon.
A gun cabinet and ammunition was also found in the area.
Enquiries revealed that the items had been stolen during a burglary in Lurgan on December 9.
Sergeant Sam Hoey said: “We are extremely fortunate that no one was hurt. I cannot describe the actions of a person who would leave a firearm where any member of the public could come across it.
“The fact that a child found it does not bear thinking about and we are grateful that no one was hurt.
“I am asking the local community to help us find those responsible. If you have any information which may assist our investigation please phone us on 101, quoting ref: 369 221215.
“I would also ask parents to speak to their children and make them aware that if they come across any object which looks suspicious or dangerous they should never touch it but inform an adult immediately.
“Fortunately in this incident the children were able to do just that.”