The Sunday after Thanksgiving, firefighters discovered 40 gallons of gasoline gone from the fire engine they were going to use for an emergency call. The call was canceled, but firefighters realized the gas was stolen.
Then, sometime between Nov. 23 and Nov. 25, someone broke into the Lake County Fire Protection District (LCFPD) airport property fire station, Willie Sapeta, LCFPD chief, said.
“Getting hit right after Thanksgiving, it’s disheartening to us as an organization, a first responding agency,” Sapeta said. “We feel pretty violated.”
He said robbers broke into the station and stole thousands of dollars worth of specialized equipment that serve little use to private citizens.
This marked the second time this year the LCFPD was robbed, and the losses totaled more than $13,000, Sapeta said.
The first was in July when someone broke into a truck, trailer and mechanic’s vehicle.
Among items stolen during the two instances were a medical bag, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) masks, a chainsaw and a box of beryllium tools worth $6,000, he said.
Beryllium is a metal used by firefighters as tools for HazMat because it does not create sparks, but has no use as a mechanic’s tool. The only resale value it is likely to have is as scrap metal, Sapeta said.
He also said while four SCBA masks were stolen, the packets to properly use them were not, without which they serve no function.
Other items, priced at $1,000, but worth more in sentimental value, were two axes from a 1947 American LaFrance fire engine. It was the first new engine the LCFPD purchased, Sapeta said.
Since the robberies occurred, LCFPD has stepped up security at the stations. More surveillance cameras and lights were installed, Sapeta said.
Even though LCFPD is insured, Sapeta said there is a $1,000 deductible that needs to be paid to repurchase all of the stolen equipment.
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