A Santa Cruz fire commander battling the CZU Lightning Complex returned to his truck to discover his wallet was stolen and his bank account had been drained, authorities said Sunday.
Cal Fire Operations Chief Mark Brunton said a fire ground commander was helping direct operations overnight Sunday when someone entered his fire vehicle outside the Bonny Doon Fire Station and stole personal items, including a wallet and “drained his bank account.”
Brunton called the incident "sickening" and "saddening."
"It's saddening, it's sickening, we are doing everything we can to try to help the community and unfortunately this happened."
Authorities said their firefighting effort in Santa Cruz was hindered by people who refused to evacuate and those who were using the chaos to steal. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said 100 officers were patrolling and anyone not authorized to be in an evacuation zone would be arrested.
“What we’re hearing from the community is that there’s a lot of looting going on,” Hart said.
He and county District Attorney Jeff Rosell expressed anger at what Rosell called the “absolutely soulless” people who seek to victimize those already victimized by the fire.
“I can’t imagine a bigger low-life,” Hart said of the fire commander's robbery, promising to catch the suspect and vowing “the DA is going to hammer him.”
CalFire CZU warned the public in a Tweet that a GoFundMe account created to help raise money for the commander who's wallet was stolen is not associated with the fire department and they advise donors to be cautious when contributing.