(Lawrenceville, Georgia) Gwinnett Police announced that firefighters’ personal vehicles parked at several Gwinnett fire stations were forcibly entered overnight while firefighters were on duty.
“Fire stations involved are #5, 15, 23, and 31,” Sgt. R.E. Long, public information officer with Gwinnett County Police Department, said in a press release. “A separate location, the former fire station number 10, was also a target. A County owned vehicle parked at that location was entered.”
Stations targeted were:
Station 5: Old Norcross Road near Breckinridge Blvd.
Station 15: Downtown Lawrenceville
Station 23: Steve Reynolds Blvd next to Meadow Creek High School
Station 31: Georgia Gwinnett College
Former #10: Russel Road at GA 20
“A suspicious person was observed and chased on foot by County officers at Fire Station 31, which is across from Georgia Gwinnett College. That individual was not apprehended,” Long said.
Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services public information officer Capt. Tommy Rutledge said a fire inspector’s service vehicle was also entered during the break-ins.
“In each of the vehicle break-ins, a window was broken out, and personal items were removed. A Gwinnett County police officer was checking the parking lot at Fire Station #31 around 2:30 a.m. and encountered a suspect. The individual fled on foot and was not able to be apprehended. The suspect was identified by the officer as a male wearing dark jeans and a hoodie,” Rutledge said. “Unnerving to Fire Officials, is the fact that this is the second time within a week that vehicles in the parking lot of fire stations were targeted.”
Rutledge said the rash of vehicle break-ins at fire stations began on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 at two separate fire station locations. In both incidents, unknown individual(s) broke into several vehicles belonging to firefighters who were working at the fire station at the time. The vehicle break-ins occurred during the overnight hours in the parking lot at Fire Station #9 (Five Forks Trickum Road/Lawrenceville) and at Fire Station #21 (Old Peachtree Road/Suwanee).
Rutledge said he Department is encouraging all on-duty personnel to be mindful of valuables left in their personal vehicles while parked at the fire station and to keep the doors locked at all times and to park at well lit areas. Police are performing extra patrols to deter further break-ins.
“Whether they occur at a fire station, shopping center or private residence, these nefarious acts have no place in our society. Those responsible demonstrate a lack of respect for the personal property of others, especially those who are serving and protecting our community,” Rutledge said, adding that additional measure are also being considered to safeguard vehicles and to make sure that whomever committed these crimes are held accountable.
“We are fortunate that the officer thwarted the crime at Fire Station #31, before items were physically taken or additional vehicles were entered. It’s only a matter of time before those responsible are caught,” Rutledge said.
Anyone with information about the vehicle break-ins at fire stations or within the community are asked to please contact the authorities. To prevent vehicle break-ins, stay alert to your surroundings and report suspicious activity to the police immediately by calling 9-1-1.
Gwinnett police are working with personnel with Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services to investigate these thefts and attempt to prevent any further incidents. If anyone has any information to share in this case they are asked to contact GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300. To remain anonymous, tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or visit www.crimestoppersatlanta.org. You can also text your tip to “Crimes” (274637). Crime Stoppers tipsters can receive up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case.