Brazen robbers target fire stations

March 7, 2010 4:36:44 PM PST
Houston firefighters at two southwest fire stations may be a little uneasy as the victims of two recent burglaries. The fire department talked about the line it walks between safety for its firefighters and staying open to the public. The firefighters of HFD Station 82 head to emergency calls in Southwest Houston, to places like the home of Stuart Nelkin.

"I hurt myself in the house and we called 911 and they came out and they were wonderful," said Nelkin.

So when he and his wife Carole heard someone broke into station 82 in the early hours of Thursday morning...

"You can't condone any theft, but this is particularly low," he said. "I mean, these are people that serve and that's what they are for and to do that is just awful."

Carole was quick to point out the irony of Station 82's location.

"It's right across the street from a police substation. That is a very sad comment, I think," she said.

While firefighters were sleeping at Station 82, someone stole a flat screen TV and mount. A few miles away, while no one was around at Station 48, someone stole a printer and computer monitors.

"When somebody's brazen enough to go into a fire station and steal things out, it really does affect the whole community," said HFD Spokesperson Patrick Trahan.

Trahan says fire stations are left open to the public with good reason.

"Our fire stations are places where people go in emergency," he said. "They are places where kids use as safe harbors when they are walking home from school. If they need to stop in there, they use them. Our fire stations are places of last resort for troubled mothers."

HFD says locking doors is at the discretion of captains. They often don't do it to save valuable time.

"Lives are in danger potentially, so taking 30 seconds to lock the door could mean the difference between life and death for somebody," said Trahan.

At Fire Station 82 on Sunday, the bay doors were at least closed as firefighters left on a call.

"A person this brazen, they're going to do it again. We're gonna catch you and we're going to prosecute," said Trahan.

There are no suspects in these cases at this time, but if you have any information, you can call the HPD Burglary and Theft Division at 713-308-0900.


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