Police arrest suspect in rescue squad robbery, community recoups cost
The county motorcycle clubs are organizing a benefit to help recover more than $230,000 worth of stolen items
By Gavin Stone
Richmond County Daily Journal, Rockingham, N.C.
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — The Rockingham Police Department has made an arrest in the theft of equipment from the Richmond County Rescue Squad believed to be worth more than $200,000.
Anthony Eugene Clark, 36, of Maner Road in Rockingham is charged with one felony count each of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and possession of stolen goods and property. He is additionally charged with one misdemeanor count of injury to personal property.
The Anson County Sheriff’s Office has also charged Clark with one felony count each of burning personal property and possession of stolen goods and property.
Clark is held at the Richmond County Jail under a $250,000 secure bond. He is set to appear in court on July 18.
The items that Clark is accused of stealing from the Rescue Squad include a crash truck worth $55,000, their Jaws of Life, a portable radio and a power generator used to light the scenes of accidents at night, along with various tools and medical equipment, according to warrants for his arrest.
The cost of the stolen items is estimated to be $237,690. The crash truck was found burned on a remote property outside of Lilesville on June 30. Scott Waters, chief of the Rescue Squad, said the theft has left them without the ability to cut victims of car accidents out of their vehicles and weakened their rescue efforts in other ways.
Cordova Fire and Rescue and the Ellerbe Rescue Squad have been bringing extra sets of hands and their heavy equipment to emergency calls in the weeks since the robbery to help.
How you can help
Those interested in assisting the Rescue Squad can donate to their GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/Richmond-County-Rescue-Squad.
Richmond County’s motorcycle clubs have banded together to throw a benefit ride to help restore the Rescue Squad. Registration for the ride will begin at 12:30 p.m. July 28 and kickstands will go up at 2 p.m., thought the flyer does not state where the riders will meet, nor where they will ride to.
For more information, contact Joey Bostick at 910-41-9537 or Mike Stokes at 910-387-3398. The clubs that have joined the ride are Steel Wheels, Playaz Elite, ‘Ol Skool Tribe, Ghost Riders, Carolina’s Finest, and the Independent Riders of Richmond County.
Participants must pay $20 per bike to ride, and they will receive a fish plate. There will be music by the Dark Horse Duo and a cornhole tournament at the event.
The robbery and the recovery
The Rescue Squad has owned the truck since 2008 when it received a $50,000 grant from the Office of the State Fire Marshall required a 50% match, according to Waters.
The break-in was reported at 10 a.m. on June 30, and the Lilesville Fire Department responded to a call of a woods fire at 1:07 p.m. which led them to a property about 150 yards back from Buck Rock Road near the Pee Dee River boat landing. The truck was fully involved when the firefighters arrived.
The truck was burned so badly that the fire department was unable to find the point of origin, and the cause of the fire is “undetermined,” according to Chief Marty Morton Jr. with the Lilesville Fire Department.
Waters said after the robbery that the robber, or robbers, apparently entered through the back door and used a ladder to break through the ceiling panels and climb into the assistant chief’s office. The doorknob to the assistant chief’s office was broken off and the door frame was busted at the point of the locking mechanism.
Waters, who has worked with the Rescue Squad since high school, said that he does not know Clark and is unaware of Clark having any connections or motivations to want to cause damage to the Rescue Squad he may have had.
It’s not clear what items have been recovered from the burned truck or whether Clark acted alone.
Cordova Fire and Rescue and the Ellerbe Rescue Squad have been coordinating their support efforts based on the emergency’s proximity to them, Waters said.
“We’re very thankful to them for doing that,” Waters said. “We’re all working together to continue to provide coverage.”
The goal of their fundraising efforts, Waters said, is to get back to “medium level”, which is the official designation of the squad. Their long term goal is to reach the heavy level, with the next step on that being this year working to get a Rescue 1 boat that would help with water rescues, according to Waters.
These efforts are now on hold.
“It’s disheartening that it occurred … it’s set us back,” Waters said.
Waters said they are increasing security at the squad’s headquarters on Rockingham Road, adding cameras and alarms.
“I always thought (the Rescue Squad headquarters) was a safe place but like anybody when you’re a victim of a crime you want to do what you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
©2019 the Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, N.C.)