Alameda County fire crew equipment vandalized and burglarized

Many first responders are on high alert, including Alameda County's new Hand Crew 8 for the upcoming storms.  

That's a team of firefighters assigned to respond to downed trees and other weather-related emergencies. But during a recent assignment, three out of the unit's four vehicles were vandalized and essential equipment was stolen. 

The firefighters described the incident as a severe blow. They said this new unit has limited resources, making the loss even more challenging to overcome.

Firefighter Chad Marino said the crew will be responding to calls this weekend despite the recent setback. 

"Our main purpose for what the crew is around for during the storm damage was to be able to respond to hazard trees. And immediately after the incident, we were unable to do that," said Marino.  

During the first weekend of February, the crew responded to storm damage caused by fallen trees in different parts of Alameda County.  
The 10-member team was staying at the Double Tree Hotel in Pleasanton while on assignment for the California Office of Emergency Services.  

On the morning of February 6, crew members found their parked vehicles damaged in the hotel parking lot. Thieves had broken in and stolen five expensive high performance chain saws. 


Oakland restauranteur fed up after 3 break-ins in 3 weeks

Osvaldo Sanchez is beyond frustrated. He's the general manager of Agave Uptown restaurant in Oakland, which has been broken into three times in the past three weeks. Since it opened in 2016 at 22nd Street and Broadway, it's been burglarized 22 times.

Marino showed a KTVU crew the sticker with the Alameda County Fire Department's logo that is on each saw along with a serial number.

There is no word yet on possible suspects.

The  department managed to buy three saws that will make it possible for the crew to continue to respond to fallen trees. Still, Marino said the loss hurts,

"It's very frustrating. It's personal for us. Those tools are very specific to us, and it's very important to the job that we do as a hand crew."

He said one firepack was stolen.  Each crew member uses one to carry items including water, gloves and a fire shelter. 

Marino said it's especially tough since it was a $2 million state grant that made the creation of this long anticipated new unit possible.

"For someone who has no due regard for anything and comes in and just deals us a blow that large. I mean $12,000 is nothing to bat an eye at. And the availability of these things just makes our job harder," he said. 

The crew will be able to respond to any storm-related incidents in the coming days, Marino said. But when they'll have all their equipment back is unknown at this point.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.