Students from a Walnut Creek middle school surprised firefighters at a local station with treats Wednesday after learning that a burglar had taken several prized belongings from the station while the crews were out battling a wildfire.
Firefighters returned to Fire Station No. 7 Sunday evening after battling the fast-spreading wildfire that had broken out on Mt. Diablo and noticed that some items had been moved around, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman Steve Aubert said.
“Once you go out there and you protect other people's property and come back and find your own was broken into, it's kind of hard to take," said firefighter JuDon Cherry.
A sweep of the station revealed that someone had taken two firefighters' weddings rings and money, as well as a Cherry’s iPad, he said.
Students from a leadership class at Foothill Middle School heard about what happened to the firefighters and wanted to help.
“We decided to make them a bunch of cookies, our favorite, make them some signs, and get them some gift cards,” said Katie Morris, 8th grader at Foothill Middle School.
Since the theft, firefighters say they've received endless food donations, hundreds of dollars in gift cards, and offers from multiple jewelry stores to replace the stolen rings
After the burglary at Fire Station 7 and a break-in attempt at Fire Station 3 a few hours later that was foiled because crews were still there, Contra Costa County fire officials said Wednesday that they had already taken some unspecified steps to increase security at the stations.
“In the past, you didn't have to worry about being extremely secure at a fire station or fire department facility, as people were a little more trustworthy. And in this day and age, that's not the case,” said Capt. Chris Demeo of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
New security had already been in the works, because the department's training facility on Treat Boulevard had been burglarized about ten times over the past two years.
“It looks like we're going to have to try to find the funds, the resources to raise the level of security at some of our staffed stations,” said Vic Massenkoff, a Contra Costa County fire investigator.
Firefighters at station 7 told KTVU that they were grateful for the change.
“I think that this is not an isolated incident, however this has happened only once at this station,” said Demeo. “I just would not like to see this become a pattern.”
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