Thieves target Ladder 19 fire station on Detroit's east side

Thieves target Ladder 19 fire station on Detroit's east side

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Thieves stole equipment and more from the Ladder 19 fire house on Detroit's east side.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Thieves stole equipment and more from the Ladder 19 fire house on Detroit's east side. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Detroit firefighters are under siege.  They're under-manned, under equipped, and now the guys at Ladder 19 say they've been violated by thieves in their own fire station.

"We feel violated because it's our home," said Ladder 19 Battalion Chief Robert Zygmontowicz.

They're some of the bravest men and women in the city.  They rush into burning buildings and save lives.  However, what happened inside an east side fire house proves there are some that see them not as heroes, but targets.

Zygmontowicz got the call Monday morning.  Someone had broken in through the basement window and treated the fire house like a free for all.

"They busted into some of the lockers, got a few radios," he explained.

Radios that cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, but the thieves didn't stop there.  They stole tools off the fire truck, a computer, a television, microwave and food that firefighters paid for themselves.

"Our job is to protect the citizens' property and lives, and when we're missing equipment it makes our job a lot harder," said Zygmontowicz.

So where were the firefighters when the thieves made their move?  They weren't at the fire house and haven't been there for weeks because that station like others across the city is closed most of the time.  It's firefighters are sent to work in other houses.  They leave the lights on and try to make it look like there is someone there, but as expected, some nearby opportunists figured it out.

Commissioner Don Austin released a statement saying in part, "Breaking into a firehouse and stealing from firefighters is a crime committed against the neighborhood and the people who depend on these first responders.  We will be more vigilant about taking safety precautions and interacting more closely with police officers who patrol fire stations within their precinct's area of responsibility."

How is the city going to replace the items that have been stolen?  The firefighters I spoke with said they don't expect the city to do it.  They think they will have to do it once again on their own.

UPDATE: Detroit's fire commissioner says firefighters won't have pay to replace their things.  That's because the existing labor contract between the city and the firefighters' union allows the city to replace the missing gear and compensate each firefighter for their stolen belongings.

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