Drunken rants broadcasted over fire chief's stolen radio

Chris Coleman, 20, has been charged with more than 20 criminal counts over the last three years, including several for public drunkenness and theft


Tribune-Review

GREENSBURG, Pa. — Drunken rants were spewing from scanners Friday night over radio channels usually used to alert first responders to emergencies in Westmoreland County.

The thief who stole Greensburg Fire Chief Ed Hutchinson's portable emergency radio from the department SUV parked in his drive apparently was having a good old time.

"All the time I've been there, never one time I've had anything taken," said Hutchinson, 93. "The door's always open, the key's always in the ignition. It sits in front of my house, 24 hours a day, for 62 frigging years."

The chief said he's not going to change his ways following the theft of the radio, microphone and a knife that was inside the Chevrolet Suburban on Sept. 15.

It was several days after the theft that the thief's rambling, drunken broadcast was heard, according to Greensburg police. Were it not for some bad luck for the suspect, Chris Coleman, 20, and good luck for police, the radio might still be missing.

While the radios can be deactivated if reported stolen, that step was never taken because the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety could not determine the serial number of the unit used by Hutchinson.

But early Friday morning, police found Coleman face down, bruised and apparently drunk on Euclid Avenue, police said. His bike and the radio were close by as the Youngwood man told police he had been hit by a car and knocked to the ground.

He also noted that the crash caused him to spill the beer he was drinking, police said.

Coleman was charged with public drunkenness and receiving stolen property. A preliminary hearing is pending.

Police Capt. Chad Zucco said the other things taken from Hutchinson's truck have not been found. Zucco also said that police do not believe Coleman was struck by a car, but most likely just fell from his bike.

Coleman has been charged with more than 20 criminal counts over the last three years, including several for public drunkenness, theft and purchasing alcohol as a minor, according to online court records.

Hutchinson, meanwhile, is a creature of habit who is taking the theft in stride.

"You want the car, it's there," he said, adding that locking it isn't in his game plan. "That way they don't break anything. They steal it, we'll get it back somehow."

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