Franklin Powell, 25, was arrested Wednesday after breaking into a New Carlisle business, but it was the fire gear he was wearing that alarmed the arresting officer.
Powell is now being charged with burglary and impersonating a public servant, but only in St. Joseph County.
Formal charges have not been filed yet in LaPorte, but Powell is being held in LaPorte County, and officers say they caught him red-handed.
The stolen fire equipment cost more than $15,000. The stolen items cost more than $15,000.
“That’s life-saving equipment for the citizens of this community, and that’s one of the pieces that was stolen,” said Capt. Mike Kellems as he held an automatic external defibrillator. “In fact, this was the one that was stolen and brought back.”
The equipment was stolen last Thursday and the replacement cost was just one problem the department was worried about.
“Because that equipment wasn’t there, the medical equipment, the fire gear — it put the truck out of service,” said Capt. Kellems. “And that means a longer response time for the fire trucks and firefighters and that’s the biggest damage that’s done here.”
The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the theft, but it took a group effort by multiple departments to find the stolen equipment.
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