REIDSVILLE, N.C. — Authorities are searching for leads after several items, including a firefighter’s wardrobe and a flat-screen television, were stolen from a fire department in Reidsville.
In a news release, deputies said the theft occurred overnight sometime before 4 a.m. Tuesday at the Bethany Fire Department, located at 6052 N.C. Highway 65.
“The fire station is supposed to be a safe place. We advertise it in the neighborhoods that if there’s a problem, go to your fire department. Then when something like this happens it strikes pretty close to home,”said Assistant Fire Chief Alan Farrar.
“I rank that right there among stealing from churches, pretty much,” he added.
Deputies say the suspect entered through an unlocked door before making off with a firefighter’s turnout gear, a 42″ flat-screen TV, a chainsaw, an air-compressor, and a reciprocating saw.
Thursday, firefighters realized a second set of turnout gear was missing, too.
“The only reason I can imagine is around this season, maybe someone thought it would make a good [Halloween] costume. I would hate to think they’re planning to impersonate a firefighter… that would be dangerous,” Farrar warned.
Turnout gear alone can cost up to $2,000. Volunteer firefighters at the station say the saws cost several hundred dollars a piece and are used for helping extricate victims in automobile wrecks.
Their gear is marked with “Bethany” on the back and has serial numbers and names on the inside of the jacket and pants.
“Now we’re essentially down two firefighters,” said Farrar. “We were able to pull some gear out of storage, but it’s not going to be a perfect fit. Eventually we hope insurance money will help us replace everything that was stolen, but for now this could really affect us on a call.”
About 40 volunteer firefighters work at the Bethany station, which covers more than 44 miles of territory. That’s the largest coverage region of any other fire stations in the area, said Farrar.
Just up the road from the fire station at Moore’s Auto and Tractor repair shop, Tim Vickers knows all too well how important quality gear is at fire stations.
“My home burned down this past February,” he said. “You could see the flames 150 feet in the air. Once I was able to get the firefighters out there, they did everything they could to save it. It’s horrible that [thieves] would do that. I hope that whoever the thief is, that his house burns down.”
Vickers continued, “If I see someone pretending to be a fireman at Halloween, I’m gonna egg him.”
An EMS worker and resident firefighter were asleep in the fire station when the theft occurred. Deputies said the EMS worker heard the doors to the station shut, but assumed it to be a firefighter. The resident firefighter did not hear anything.
Anyone with further information is asked to call the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office or Crimestoppers at (336) 349-9683.