Rising thefts targeting first responders in Seattle is 'cost of doing business,' FD says
“They are stealing from our ability to help people," SFD Assistant Chief Chris Lombard said
By Joanna Putman
SEATTLE — The Seattle Fire Department has started to see equipment theft as part of “the cost of doing business,” KOMO reported.
The thefts can occur when firefighters are out responding to calls. The report referenced a July incident, during which thousands of dollars worth of fire equipment was taken from a truck while firefighters were inside a hotel.
“It’s crazy how brazen they are as far as taking stuff from us,” SFD Assistant Chief Chris Lombard told KOMO News. “When we’re responding, our focus is on you, the public, the person who called for help. When we have to start focusing, keep one eye over our shoulder, looking around to make sure, that really distracts us from being able to help people.”
More than a dozen other thefts from the SFD’s joint training facility have also occurred this year, according to the report. The facility’s extensive security measures haven’t deterred thieves from going after fire equipment.
“Our crews will find within two or three days, there’s our stuff posted on Craigslist or OfferUp," Lombard said. "They won’t even take the labels off. It will still say Seattle Fire on it."
Lombard has been with Seattle fire for nearly 30 years and told KOMO he's never seen the level of theft and vandalism the department has dealt with this year.
“They are stealing from our ability to help people," Lombard said.
Lombard says that Seattle’s police staffing crisis likely contributes to the rise in thefts, according to the report. Firefighters are now often required to address criminal activity that police used to handle, Lombard said.