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  1. #1
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    Default Firefighters charged in theft of statue

    Firefighters charged in theft of landmark
    Thursday, May 12, 2005
    BY BILL SWAYZE
    Star-Ledger Staff

    It was a typical suburban juvenile crime. Someone stole the cast- iron lawn jockey from the front of a landmark Morris County restaurant two years ago.

    But police in the Mendhams said yesterday they have solved the case, and the suspects are not just a bunch troublemaking teens.

    Two of them are volunteer firefighters in Mendham Borough.

    William Willshaw Jr., 34, and Richard DeNicola, 24, were arrested with their roommate, Stephen Basho, 25, and charged with possession of stolen property and knowingly receiving stolen property. None was available for comment.

    The three men, who share a house in Mendham Township, were freed on $200 bail. The third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The men are due in municipal court on May 25.

    Police also say someone defaced the lawn jockey, painting its hands and face black "as a joke."

    "It is certainly a poor attempt at humor, and what they did is certainly a crime," said Mendham Township police Lt. Jim Hughes.

    Police discovered the 4-foot-tall, 40-pound statue April 16 in the basement of the home the men rent, when two officers were called to the home after Willshaw was allegedly involved in an altercation.

    The statue had been stolen two years ago from the entrance of the Black Horse Tavern, a venerable Mendham Borough restaurant that dates to Colonial times and graces the main crossroads of the historic and affluent borough.

    Restaurant owner Anthony Knapp posted rewards and dropped fliers on the tavern's tables. The theft of the jockey was highly publicized in the area because of its high visibility at the tavern.

    "The statue was one of the first things you'd see when you came to the restaurant," said Dan Marx, a local resident and longtime Black Horse Tavern customer. "It was a shock to the community when it was taken. He was a part of the history of this place."

    Katie Knapp, the owner's wife, said the statue was purchased 15 years ago in Lexington, Ky., and placed in front of the downstairs pub. Two others were purchased later, and all were painted by professionals. The Knapps said the statue was worth $2,000.

    Then on March 12, 2003, before the staff brought the statues in for the night, one vanished.

    "We were very upset. You knew it had to be somebody local. We thought we'd never see him again," Katie Knapp said.

    Police say the men used the statue as sort of a mascot. At one point, they carted him off to a NASCAR race down South and put him in front of their car.

    "They were amused at the race because they said, 'We had several rednecks make comments about him,'" Hughes said.

    According to some historians, lawn jockey statues represent Jocko Graves, a 12-year-old slave who froze to death as he held a lantern along the Delaware for George Washington's troops. Washington reportedly commissioned a statue of the boy for his Mount Vernon estate.

    In later years, the statue was mass-produced. But the statues came to be seen as racist, and many were destroyed or repainted.

    Mendham Borough Fire Chief Tom Berenbak said he wasn't aware of the charges against his men and will look into the matter today. He described them as "good guys" and said DeNicola and Willshaw have been members of the department for five years.

    The statue is being stored in the township police department's evidence locker. It will be returned to the Knapps when the case is over.

    "We are delighted. We had been talking about replacing him, but not now," Katie Knapp said.


    For those of you keeping score, this is the same FD who recently had a member convicted of arson.


  2. #2
    Forum Member PattyV's Avatar
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    I dont think it counts at all that they are firefighters.
    That could easily have been left out of the story.
    As for it being the same brigade that someone was charged with Arson at, i think it would just be coincidence. We could go around hollering about how this brigade is lacking in discipline, when we all know that the same two things could happen at our brigade.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

  3. #3
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    Originally posted by PattyV
    I dont think it counts at all that they are firefighters.
    That could easily have been left out of the story.
    As for it being the same brigade that someone was charged with Arson at, i think it would just be coincidence. We could go around hollering about how this brigade is lacking in discipline, when we all know that the same two things could happen at our brigade.
    Is the Gold Coast near Oz?

    It completely matters. FF damaging property and stealing a local icon within 1000 feet of their firehouse is a huge story. The blatant lack of respect they showed for a local business owner (one who, trust me, supports the FD big time) and the lack of remorse shown is disgusting.

    Coincidence? You have got to be kidding.

  4. #4
    Forum Member PattyV's Avatar
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    Im not kidding,if an accountant stole the statue, they wouldnt go to his accountancy firm and ask his boss for comments. Its a blatant disrespect for the local business yes, i dont condone what they did. But it really isnt needed to mention that they are firefighters. The article would be just as interesting without mentioning the fact.

    And the Gold Coast is in Australia, its Australia's largest non-capitol city.
    BTW, its 'Aus' not 'Oz'. Oz is where Dorothy ended up.
    (and i maintain as always, we dont say shrimp, we say prawns. We chuck more prawns on the barbie )
    Last edited by PattyV; 05-12-2005 at 06:17 AM.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

  5. #5
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    Im not kidding,if an accountant stole the statue, they wouldnt go to his accountancy firm and ask his boss for comments. Its a blatant disrespect for the local business yes, i dont condone what they did. But it really isnt needed to mention that they are firefighters. The article would be just as interesting without mentioning the fact.
    An accountant is not a public official in a position of trust charged with the preservation and protection of people's property.
    Oz is where Dorothy ended up.
    I know. That was my point.

  6. #6
    Forum Member PattyV's Avatar
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    Im still not debating that is was right, it just didnt need to be mentioned in the article. By mentioning it in the article, it tarnishes the name of the 'respected civil servants' that are firefighters.

    I get the 'Oz' joke now
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by PattyV
    Im still not debating that is was right, it just didnt need to be mentioned in the article. By mentioning it in the article, it tarnishes the name of the 'respected civil servants' that are firefighters.
    THE ARTICLE DID NOT TARNISH THE NAME OF RESPECTED CIVIL SERVANTS, THE IDIOTS WHO COMMITTED THE ACTS TARNISHED THE NAMES OF RESPETED CIVIL SERVANTS!

  8. #8
    Forum Member PattyV's Avatar
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    What i am saying is that the article should not have mentioned that they were firefighters. (thus not tarnishing the name of firefighters) I know the idiots were the ones who made the bad image, but the article broadcasted it further.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

  9. #9
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Patty V...

    These morons literally bit the hand that fed them. Apparently, the owner of the rstaurant was a big FD supporter.


    They disgraced their department. Any firefighter from that FD who enters any building in the performance of their duty is now suspect.

    I hope they are charged to the fullest extent of the law... the "red hot stove rule" applies here. Toss their sorry arses off the FD and make an example of them.
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  10. #10
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Originally posted by PattyV
    What i am saying is that the article should not have mentioned that they were firefighters. (thus not tarnishing the name of firefighters) I know the idiots were the ones who made the bad image, but the article broadcasted it further.
    ?

    Whatever happened to public servants being held to higher standards?

    It NEEDS to be in the open so that it doesn't fester and give everyone a bad name. It shows that the majority do believe in being held accountable and knowing right from wrong.
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  11. #11
    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    34 years old, living with room mates and pullng this sort of crap? Get a life dude.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    Originally posted by DennisTheMenace
    34 years old, living with room mates and pullng this sort of crap? Get a life dude.
    AMEN !

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    Whatever happened to public servants being held to higher standards?
    Exactly. As firefighters, whether paid or volunteer, we are held to a different standard than the general public. The public places a lot of trust in us and when we do something that shows that we are not trustworthy, it makes news.

    If we wish to continue to be considered professional, we must exhibit professional conduct. Unfortunately, often our misbehavior away from the firehouse ends up reflecting badly on our department and the fire service in general.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  14. #14
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    George, what is your problem man. You need to chill. Obviously you are very anti-firefighter and should keep it to yourself.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  15. #15
    Disillusioned Subscriber Steamer's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Conster74
    And NM: how does George's pointing this out, and bemoaning the dragging of the firefighting profession through the mud because of the bad acts of a few, and calling for the restoration of the high standards to which we are held, make him anti firefighter???? So he's a little hot headed. So am I... but I don't see how that makes him anti-FF. Connie
    It was a satirical comment, Conster.

    Suggested procedure:
    1. Internal investigation by FD officers,
    2. Administrative suspension until court determination of guilt,
    3. Laudermil predeprivation hearing at conclusion of court procedings,
    4. Hand them slips that say, "Please shut the door on your way out for the last time."

    If the department deals with these morons decisively, the public is far more apt to respond in a positive manner. It shows them that their fire department is looking out for the publics best interests.
    Last edited by Steamer; 05-12-2005 at 12:35 PM.
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  16. #16
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Default pot stirrers!

    Originally posted by Steamer

    It was a satirical comment, Conster.
    lol

    HOW WAS THAT NOT OBVIOUS??????????????????????? ????
    wait, maybe I should phrase my reply "there is no way that was satire" just to stir the pot
    Last edited by Resq14; 05-12-2005 at 12:40 PM.
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  17. #17
    Disillusioned Subscriber Steamer's Avatar
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    Default Re: pot stirrers!

    Originally posted by Resq14


    lol

    HOW WAS THAT NOT OBVIOUS??????????????????????? ????
    wait, maybe I should phrase my reply "there is no way that was satire" just to stir the pot.
    I should have kept my mouth shut and waited for the fireworks show.
    Steve Gallagher
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  18. #18
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    You had to spoil it, didn't you.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  19. #19
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    Well, I can't speak to lawn jockeys becoming easy prey for volunteer firefighters in communities where the practice of displaying lawn jockeys still exist, but I am completely outraged by reported thefts of GNOMES from around here.
    It always starts out small; change from the pop fund, then arson, then lawn ornament thefts.
    Here in Illinois, there is a thriving cottage industry of re-selling stolen lawn ornaments. Just goes to show you that college is getting too expensive.
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  20. #20
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Originally posted by PattyV
    Im not kidding,if an accountant stole the statue, they wouldnt go to his accountancy firm and ask his boss for comments.
    Accountants do not take an oath to protect life and property. Firefighters do.

    The citizenry shoud be certain that when they need help, the fire department is going to come help them -- not loot their home or business. The public places a great deal of trust in us and we should be held to a higher standard.

    Back when I was a journalist, we were taught about the definition of news. "Dog bites man" isn't news because it's a common occurance. "Man bites dog" [b]is[/i] news because it doesn't happen every day. People expect firefighters and police officers to obey the law... so when they fail to do so, it becomes news.

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