Burglars cut security fence, locks to steal $5K worth of tools from Ore. FD
The Lebanon Fire District may have to delay future fire investigations after many of their tools were stolen from a trailer
By Alex Powers
LEBANON, Ore. — The Lebanon Fire District will be without some of its investigation tools following a break-in at a relatively remote fire station.
Lebanon's fire chief said firefighters parked a trailer full of cordless power tools, flood lights and cameras on May 23 after investigating a barn fire. They learned Monday night, May 29 that someone had cut through a year-old security fence, and cut the locks on the trailer where it was stored behind Fairview Station, 30570 Fairview Road.
The district is inventorying everything that was taken, fire Chief Joe Rodondi said.
But "it'll be in the thousands of dollars," Rodondi said.
Lebanon's fire service installed the security fence in 2022 at the recommendation of risk managers and insurers, getting ahead of potential theft at the station that is frequently used but not always staffed around the clock, off of Highway 20 near Waterloo.
The trailer typically was parked inside the district's always-staffed central station before 2023, but that station was leveled to make way for a new district headquarters.
Rodondi said he believes break-ins are increasingly common at fire stations served by volunteer fire departments.
"They have valuable tools and equipment that can be pawned," he said.
News stories since February 2022 show thefts from multiple departments in Western Washington, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
Rodondi didn't say how likely the department will be able to recover the tools, marked with the initials of Lebanon Fire Investigation Team.
"LFIT may not mean anything to anyone, but we know that's our tool," Rodondi said.
Anyone with information related to the theft is asked to contact the Linn County Sheriff's Office at 541-967-3950 and reference case number 23-02101, according to a district news release.
"Thefts such as these are extremely frustrating because they affect our ability to serve our community to the high standard that is expected," Fire Marshal Ken Foster said in the news release.
"We investigate the causes of fires to assist residents in insurance claims, assist law enforcement if arson is suspected and to identify possible safety concerns," he said.
"Having to replace all our investigation equipment may delay any pending or future fire investigations and has a direct effect on our community."