A man burglarized a fire truck parked outside a Miami grocery store Wednesday morning, stealing equipment worth thousands of dollars, according to Miami Fire Rescue.
Lt. Fidel Barreto, who works on Miami Fire Rescue's Technical Rescue Team, said he went to a Publix store near 50th Terrace and Biscayne Boulevard to buy some groceries. After he had been in the store for a few minutes, Barreto said a police officer approached him and told him that his fire engine might have been burglarized.
A woman who had been parked in an SUV about 50 feet behind the fire engine told Barreto that she saw a black truck pull up to the fire truck, and a man wearing a construction vest got out, she said. The woman said the man went to the truck, opened a compartment and stole some equipment.
Barreto said the thief stole equipment with an estimated value of $2,000 to $6,000. Among the stolen items were saws that firefighters use to cut their way into burning homes or through roofs and save people's lives.
"This isn't your typical equipment that you just buy at any hardware store," Barreto said.
Barreto said that if the theft had gone unnoticed, the consequences could have been deadly.
"Had we not known about this lady who was nice enough to come forward, we'd have had a building fire. We'd have shown up. I'd tell a guy, 'Go get one of the saws,' and he gets back there and there's nothing there and there's somebody trapped inside a house, guess what -- we just lost a victim. The time that would've been spent trying to find another means of entrance to the house would have cost someone's life," Barreto said.
The fire truck was taken out of service because of the missing equipment.
No arrests have been made. Barreto said police are reviewing surveillance video from the Publix store in the hope of identifying the thief or his vehicle.
Anyone with information is asked to call police.
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