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    Default FBI Clarifies Recent Reports of Fire Equipment Thefts

    State of Connecticut
    Commission on Fire Prevention and Control

    CT FIREnews

    Providing one way, direct, up-to-date fire service information via Email


    The following information was provided by the IAFC:


    Recent Connecticut incident may not have been ³sinister²

    Fairfax, VA, Wednesday, May 21, 2003ŠŠThe IAFC recently requested a clarification from the FBI regarding recent news stories about thefts of fire equipment and identification from departments across the country.* Specifically, the association wanted to obtain an official perspective on the validity of the stories and to determine* the FBI¹s opinion on whether there was any potential threat to homeland security related to these thefts.*
    The FBI¹s response, which was received this afternoon, stated that the most recent theft incidents, ³may not actually be as sinister² as they first appeared to be.* As a result, the FBI has asked that all IAFC members aid in providing clarification on these issues to prevent the creation of undue alarm in their communities.

    One particular incident which prompted recent concern occurred in Connecticut in the past several weeks and was widely reported in local newspapers.* The incident involved the theft of turnout gear stolen directly from fire department service bays, an act which concerned local officials because of the relatively low crime rate in the area.* The incident was evaluated by the Connecticut State Police who concluded that the theft had no connection to potential terrorists.* However, they issued an advisory asking for additional vigilance on the part of fire departments to watch for non-fire service personnel using the gear to gain access to an incident scene.* *

    In the ensuing weeks, both the news story and State Police advisory were widely circulated via email, where they ultimately took on the tone of a serious potential vulnerability which might be exploited by terrorists, including fears that non-fire personnel might gain access to sensitive areas by impersonating fire fighters.* Additional comments circulating in subsequent messages included references to ³the theft of fire trucks for use as bombs² and other increasingly alarming ³what if² scenarios.

    The truth of the Connecticut story, according to both state and federal officials, is that the thieves involved were actually ³a couple of fire fighter wannabes² who wanted the gear to impersonate fire personnel.* Both subjects were apprehended, and one is currently in jail.* **In addition, the fire-truck-as-bomb story was originally attributed, erroneously, to the FBI immediately following September 11th.* Although the story was reported on CNN and repeated by many newspapers and broadcasters, the FBI never issued such a warning.* The true source of the supposed alert has never been determined. *

    Still cause for vigilance

    Even though the recent theft cases may not necessarily represent a connection to any known community or homeland security threat, the IAFC concurs with the advisory from the Connecticut State Police and subsequent USFA recommendations for additional vigilance on the part of U.S. fire departments.* Extra attention should certainly be paid to individuals or situations that seem out of the ordinary, particularly in the current environment of heightened alert levels.* Suspicious packages, people and vehicles should be promptly reported, and every attempt should be made to secure equipment or gear that could even potentially be used for non-fire service purposes, whether or not those uses are related to homeland security.*

    A final recommendation from the FBI is that all departments maintain a heightened awareness of the possibility of secondary devices such as those used with such devastating affect in other parts of the world.* The potential for damage resulting from such intentional acts is without question, and must be considered as part of any community¹s response plan.

    For additional information, please visit the USFA CIP Information site at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fire-service/igmay1503.shtm.

    Last edited by Adze39; 05-23-2003 at 02:45 PM.
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