As Northern California fire crews were out battling the raging Morgan Fire near Mount Diablo this weekend, someone was rifling through their station and stealing their stuff.
Firefighters returned to Station No. 7 at 1050 Walnut Avenue in Walnut Creek Monday after battling the brush fire to find their iPads, watches, cash and even two wedding rings gone.
The discovery was disheartening to the crews who had spent 24 hours protecting at least 100 structures threatened by the fire, which had grown to 3,200 acres and was 70 percent contained as of Wednesday, said Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman Steve Aubert. Police are now looking for the person or people who did it.
Firefighter Judon Cherry was especially rattled. He noticed his things were missing when he wanted to charge his phone and check in with his wife of 20 years, only to find his belongings - including his watch and wedding ring - weren't there.
"When I went into the bedroom to charge my phone I noticed my stuff had been messed with and my iPad was missing," Cherry said.
Cherry said knowing someone went through bedroom lockers and stole their personal belongings while they worked to save homes is almost unbelievable.
"Are you serious? Somebody actually came into the fire station and stole from us after we helped people?" Cherry said. "It's devastating."
Police believe burglars pried open the locked back door sometime Sunday night, while crews were out on the line.
A sweep of the station revealed that in addition to Cherry's lost items, someone had taken another firefighter's wedding ring and a pair of watches.
Aubert said there was also a burglary attempt at Fire Station No. 3 at 1520 Rossmoor Parkway in Walnut Creek at about 2:30 a.m. Monday while firefighters were asleep. In that case, someone attempted to break into a bedroom window, but firefighters woke up, prompting the would-be burglar to flee, Aubert said.
"We're going to be evaluating the security at each of the stations to provide a better level of security for the department's resources and personnel," Aubert said.
Firefighters are now considering video cameras and gates with codes to beef up security.