SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A group of East Texas firefighters are still without essential gear tonight after it was stolen from a storage shed behind their station.
It happened in late February at the Chapel Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Smith County.
Now, the department’s chief says he can’t understand why someone would steal from a group of volunteers.
“I mean, it’s kind of surprising,” said Chief Dale Peterson. “They see we are volunteers, and for somebody to take something that we use for our protection to help them out while fighting fires, it’s surprising that they would do that.”
Around 10 pieces of bunker gear, pants, and overcoats were stolen from the shed.
“The plywood has been over a window there for a while,” Peterson said. “It’s kind of rotted out, so they just pulled it back completely away from the frame we had on it and then went in through the window.”
Peterson said the stolen gear was outdated, but it was still used for vital training exercises. It won’t be replaced until the current gear that they wear on emergency calls hits the 10-year mark.
“It’s a pretty good hit,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith. “Whether they use it for training or for fire suppression, it’s essential equipment that is required for firefighting.”
The Smith County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft, and they say at this point there are little clues pointing to a suspect.
“It’s an active investigation here in the criminal division of the sheriff’s office,” Smith said. “As of right now, we don’t have any firm leads.”
Peterson said the gear should be easy to spot.
“The jacket has Chapel Hill across the back of it,” Peterson said. “So, if they happen to see even just one jacket out there, get a hold of the sheriff’s office.”
Sheriff Larry Smith said the company that oversees the soon-to-be-open Whataburger in Chapel Hill plans on donating eight thousand dollars to the volunteer department to help them replace the stolen items.