By Rachel Wulff


MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS13) — Tens of thousands of dollars in gear was stolen from the Mountain View volunteer fire department.

It’s a big hit to a small station in Stanislaus County. Life-saving tools were taken from an engine. The chief says in his 17 years, he’s never seen anything like it.

“The engine was in one of our bays but they broke in through the back door,” said Mountain View volunteer fire chief Carlos Melo. “…We had Amkus extrication tools in here, cutters and spreaders and we also had a ram here.”

Thieves also grabbed a K-12 saw and a portable generator light. But the jaws of life apparatus was the biggest loss.

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“Just the cutting tools were $32,000 three years ago,” he said.

Between the stolen items and damage to the building, the fire department is out $40,000, a third of this all-volunteer station’s budget.

“Hopefully, our insurance will cover it,” Melo said.

Neighbors like Julie Loforti are concerned about the impact to public safety.

“I live close by. It kind of worries me,” said Loforti. “If they don’t have the right equipment and they are trying to save someone in a car accident — it’s scary. There are accidents out here every night.”

Melo says they do have another engine equipped with the jaws of life and could pull from another fire station if need be. He is frustrated about the financial hit and wonders what thieves were thinking.

“I would hope they would just bring them back and drop them at the doorstep because these are tools you really can’t go sell anywhere,” said Melo.

If you know the location of the stolen equipment, you’re asked to contact the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

This time thieves weren’t caught on camera. But that won’t be the case-next time because they are installing cameras.

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