Halifax Regional Police still won't discuss the circumstances surrounding the theft of an off-duty RCMP officer’s handgun on the weekend, but they admit they're gravely concerned the pistol is missing.

Former Halifax Regional Police officer Jim Hoskins admits he's more than a little concerned about the news that broke late Monday afternoon.

“I'm a big fan of not having handguns in the city, let alone not having police handguns out there that could potentially be used in a crime,” Hoskins said.

The theft occurred in downtown Halifax on Granville Street, where police say the off-duty officer had parked his private vehicle just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Two hours later, he was calling police himself.

“When he returned and found his vehicle had been broken into and the firearm was missing, he reported to us immediately,” said Halifax Regional Police spokesman Const. John MacLeod.

The gun itself is distinctive:  a nine-millimeter Smith and Wesson with RCMP logos and imagery stamped in a number of places.

Three magazines and some ammunition were also taken.

It’s serious business, according to former Mountie Terry McKee, who notes the officer could face criminal charges.

“It's a double-edged sword, because, while the investigation is taking place as the officer being a victim for a theft, and the potential of charges for improper storage and handling, there is also an internal investigation that takes place for the conduct,” McKee said.

The Mounties will only say they're conducting an internal review, and won't speculate on whether it could result in disciplinary action or charges against the officer.

“What I can tell you is, obviously, it's a very serious matter for us,” said Nova Scotia RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke.

Mounties also won't say much about internal policies and procedures for handling firearms while off-duty -- to protect the officers themselves.

“I don't think it would be very helpful for our members who are on duty, reporting for duty and leaving the detachment after hours, whether they're on-call and whether they require their issued firearms, to come home with them or not,” Clarke said.

For now, the investigation is very much ongoing, but can't be solved quickly enough for some.

“I hope they get that gun off the street, because as long as it’s out there, it could be sold and it could be used by the criminal element, which is very scary,” Hoskins said.

The director of the province's Serious Incident Response Team says the agency is not involved in the investigation and likely won't be.

Halifax Regional Police say they're continuing to hunt for the stolen gun, because, like Hoskins, they're deeply concerned it's somewhere out there on the street.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.