December 14, 2018
The Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office says thieves stole tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of life-saving equipment from a rural fire station in southwest Washington.
Deputies say the theft occurred this week at one of Wahkiakum Fire and Rescue’s stations; they say the fully volunteer department is stunned and without vital tools for the 450 homes it serves.
“We’ve had a couple of easy start 18-inch chainsaws removed off of one of the engines, along with a set of manual jaws of life,” Fire Commissioner, Mark Leitham said.
Leitham says there were no signs of forced entry. He says he can’t understand who would do this to the small department.
“These are the tools we need to save someone’s life,” Leitham said. “I don’t know if it’s arrogant, ignorance, I don’t know what it is, it is sad.”
Deputies say the thieves used an ambulance as a getaway car to haul the equipment out of the station.
Inside the ambulance, they stole a defibrillator worth more than $30,000. Deputies estimate thieves stole between $45,000 to $50,000 worth of equipment from the department.
“This is a defibrillator that will do the job, but it won’t monitor the patient,” Leitham said. “It won’t do blood pressure or things like that.”
Authorities say the ambulance was found dumped less than a mile from the station Wednesday morning hours after thieves stole it Tuesday.
Leitham says he can’t speculate on whether this was an inside job, but says the locks were changed at the station and there will be more security measures put in place.
The sheriff’s office says there have been no suspects identified in the case.
Officials are asking community members to keep an eye out for the equipment and notify deputies if they spot any possible stolen items.
The fire department also wants to thank Coastal Lock based out of Astoria, who came out as a courtesy and quickly replaced 30 keys for 22 locks.