WOODBRIDGE (CBS13) — It was just another call on Monday night for firefighters Garrett Morrison and Bobby Van Ruiten with the Woodbridge Fire District.
The crew was called out of a station in Lodi to a vegetation fire on Guard Road at around 9 p.m.
According to Morrison, after responding to assist with other calls and returning to the station roughly three hours later, something unusual and unsettling happened at the station.
“In the area of two and a half, three hours that we were gone, [we] pulled into the station and I noticed that my truck was missing first thing,” Morrison said.
The station’s security cameras captured a man wondering around the station. Eventually, he cut open a screen, ripped it out and broke in through the bathroom window.
“We do have surveillance cameras and watched the guy break into the station for about 30 minutes,” Morrison said.
The suspect came through the bathroom window and didn’t bother taking anything from the firefighter’s quarters at the station. He then went right into the main room where he proceeded to take keys, wallets, a laptop, a PlayStation4 before going back outside and stealing one of the firefighter’s trucks, according to Morrison and Van Ruiten.
“[It’s] oe of the things do you think it’s going to happen the least,” Van Ruiten said. “I mean, you go on a call and you come back and find your truck and all your things missing from the station.”
Morrison and Van Ruiten are in the process of re-keying their homes, canceling credit cards and replacing all that was stolen from them. But Van Ruiten said the burglary also robbed them of a sense of security.
“It’s an uneasy feeling. He has access to all of my information. He has my computer. It has all of my personal information. So he can do a lot with the stuff that he took,” Van Ruiten said.
Morrison told CBS13 that the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the burglary. Both firefighters question why someone would do this to people who are assigned and dedicated to protecting the community.
“Why he felt the need to break in? If he knows what we do and if he understands it?” Van Ruiten said.
Morrison told CBS13 said in February of this year there was another burglary at the station. He said that some firefighting equipment was stolen from the district.
“You know, I just like to have my truck back in one in one piece and I’m sure my firefighter would like to have his wallet and everything back,” Morrison said.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said Morrison’s truck was recovered Tuesday morning in French Camp.
Through their investigation so far, deputies determined 22-year-old Luis Avelar is a suspect in the burglary. Deputies believe
Avelar may be a transient and is known to frequent multiple cities in San Joaquin County.
If you have any information regarding this case or know the whereabouts of Mr. Avelar please contact the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office: 209-468-4400, Case # 19-21334, Detective Piombo