Habersham County Fire Chief Jeff Cain, at Station 15, Wednesday, January 22, 2014
CLARKESVILLE, Ga. -- Grand theft at the firehouse:
Burglars broke into Fire Station 15 over the weekend while the volunteers were out, and stole practically everything, leaving the firefighters temporarily limited in their ability to save lives.
"They basically cleaned us out," said Habersham County Fire Chief Jeff Cain Wednesday night.
The burglars stole just about all the gear except the three fire trucks themselves, taking specialized fire fighting equipment and other tools such as chain saws and axes and generators.
And they stole the volunteers' medical equipment -- their automated external defibrillators and their medical jump bags.
Chief Cain was able to pull together enough spare equipment to keep Fire Station 15 open.
But at first, he said, it could have been a life threatening situation.
"Oh, most definitely. You know, when they steal your medical bags and your AEDs, I mean, you know, if you're responding to somebody that's having a heart attack or something like that, the AED's an important piece of equipment.... It just so happened that we didn't have a call, didn't have an emergency that was needed, in that time frame, and we're thankful for that and we're lucky."
Who would want to leave the volunteers without their life saving equipment and fire fighting gear?
Chief Cain said the burglars broke in through a window at the rear of the station. Their truck left tire tracks in the sod outside the rear door. He said it would have taken at least two people to haul everything away so quickly.
Wednesday night, Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told 11Alive News that some of the medical equipment had just been found -- the AEDs and the jump bags. Someone dumped them on U.S. Forest Service land, along with some receipts for merchandise that was bought at some local stores, and other clues that Sheriff Terrell said he hopes will help his investigators find the burglars and the rest of the equipment.
The estimated replacement costs for all of the gear -- $8,000 to $10,000.
The county's insurance policy will pay for the gear that is not recovered, minus the $2,500 deductable.
"We're all angry," said Chief Cain. "They didn't just steal from us, they stole from the whole county," from the people the firefighters serve and protect. "When you come in and your trucks are basically stripped, it's disheartening."
The Chief said that, besides getting all the equipment back, he wants video surveillance equipment for all eight fire stations, and burglar bars for the windows, which he was working to buy and install prior to the burglaries.
Anyone with any information that might help investigators should call the Habersham County Sheriff's Office, 706-754-6666, or leave an anonymous tip with the Sheriff's Office: Click Here