Almost $32,000 in firefighting equipment was stolen from an Omaha fire station recently, but firefighters say the loss won't affect their day-to-day operations.
Battalion Chief John Stolinski said Tuesday that the theft involved “extra loaner gear, backup gear, not front-line equipment” that is key to fighting fires.
He said the thieves kicked in a door to a detached garage sometime late Thursday or early Friday. He said they took three extension cords, a $20,000 device that tracks firefighters inside burning buildings, a $5,000 unit that powers a device used to cut motorists free from damaged vehicles and a $6,000 thermal-imaging camera.
Most of the equipment was 10 to 15 years old, Stolinski said, and the $31,800 loss was an estimate to replace the stolen gear with new items.
“We've never had a problem out here,” he said about Fire Station No. 71 in the Elkhorn area. “I assume they were looking for scrap metal.”
He said “somebody's always awake, always up” at the fire station, but the theft occurred in an outbuilding north of a parking lot near the station, making it difficult to see or hear the break-in.
Omaha police recovered the stolen power unit, Stolinski said, which was damaged and stripped of its copper wiring.
Firefighters screwed the damaged door back into place and parked a vehicle in front of it to prevent further break-ins, he said, until the garage door was repaired Monday.
Stolinski said he couldn't recall such a brazen theft at any Omaha fire station.
“Have you ever heard of anybody breaking into a fire station for scrap metal?” he asked.