A handgun stolen from a Rice County sheriff’s deputy was recovered in St. Paul this week.

St. Paul police were responding to an alarm at a business in the 600 block of University Avenue W. about 8 p.m. Wednesday when they saw four people sitting in a car in the lot acting suspicious.

Police recovered the handgun from under the driver’s seat, said Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman. The alarm turned out to be unfounded, and the four suspects were not related to it, Paulos said.

Police also recovered a small amount of marijuana and an open container of alcohol in the car. The four suspects, three from Faribault and one from Minneapolis, were arrested, but charges were not filed by late Thursday afternoon.

Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen said the gun was stolen about 10 p.m. from the deputy’s unmarked car on March 16. The car was parked on the street in a business district in Faribault, Bohlen said.

The off-duty deputy was in a restaurant at the time, Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn said.

“We’re grateful that St. Paul has recovered this,” Bohlen said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Bohlen declined to say how thieves got into the car but did say that windows were not smashed. Nothing else was taken from the car.

The deputy followed department policy and the gun was locked inside a hidden compartment, Dunn said, adding that the car would not appear obvious as a law enforcement squad. The Sheriff’s Office now requires a secondary lock on such hidden compartments, Dunn said.

Chao Xiong