It’s a new low, even for thieves.
Twice now, thieves have targeted the Popkum Fire Hall and its firefighting force.
A few weeks ago the volunteers answered a 2 a.m. page for a crash on the highway involving two trucks. They raced to the hall, suited up, jumped in their trucks, and headed to the rescue.
Meanwhile, back at the hall, someone took the opportunity to loot their vehicles and take off with wallets, cell phones, work tools and other personal belongings. They also stole pagers and radios belonging to the firehall.
“Seven of our personal vehicles were broken into,” says Jan Bosman, secretary of the firehall.
“One of the guys, he’s now missing some personal tools from his construction business, along with wallets and phones, and also firehall related equipment like pagers and radios.”
And then, while the crew was out on the all-day call on Monday that closed the highway for hours, thieves struck again.
“We discovered that … they cut a hole in the fence,” Bosman says. One of the engines can’t be parked inside due to lack of room, and equipment was stolen out of that apparatus, he said. Among the stolen gear was first aid equipment. Being so close to the highway, the small Popkum department responds to many highway calls that require first aid.
It’s going to be a while before all of that stolen equipment is replaced. The hall has already spent its annual budget, and being an electoral area firehall, there isn’t much funding to go around in the first place.
In the meantime, they are feeling forced to leave one firefighter at the hall to watch over their belongings while the rest of the crew heads out.
“Which is ridiculous,” Bosman says. “That we might lose resources like this. But if we have a call and it’s in the middle of night we are forced to leave one of the members to watch over the hall.”
They are looking at ways to perhaps fundraise to replace the lost equipment.
They are hoping the Popkum community will help keep an eye on the hall.
In the meantime, anyone with information is asked to contact Crimestoppers or the Chilliwack RCMP. And any thieves who have a change of heart are asked to return the equipment so the volunteers can focus on helping others.