Burglars break into Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department

Buchanan VFD firefighters practice putting out a fire. The department was broken into early Friday, Jan. 13, and equipment was stolen and damaged.

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Unknown persons broke into the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department station early Friday, Jan. 13, causing thousands of dollars in damage and stealing property as well.

The Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers is now looking for the suspects who were responsible and are asking for assistance from the public in locating the perpetrators.

“It doesn't make any sense to me,” said Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Hutson. “I have been going over it in my head a hundred thousand times. I have no clue why anyone would do this.”

Hutson said he received several calls early Friday monring, telling him a bay door at the fire department was open.

“I ran to the fire station and as I walked in, I noticed the office door glass was shattered and broken,” he said. “I started walking around and noticed a number of different items out of place. The more I walked around, the more stuff I could see damaged. Bunker gear was out of the lockers and air packs were laying in the middle of the floor. I found windows that had been jimmied open and the door knob was broken off on our storage building.”

Hutson said desks in the office had been rifled through and someone had stolen the department's high-dollar truck lights and dive lights as well as a dash camera from one of the fire trucks. The department had only had that camera for about half a year. Also missing were several pairs of binoculars.

One of the biggest blows, however, was damage caused to the department's cascade system, which fills the oxygen tanks the firefighters use when they are fighting a blaze.

“I think they were trying to steal it and it weighed a lot more than they expected,” Hutson said. “I think they broke it trying to steal it and I think someone or something spooked them. They left a lot of equipment and things in piles in the station.

“We paid around $15,000 for the cascade system about 10-13 years ago and to replace it now would cost us around $25,000 to $40,000.”

Hutson said the department is waiting for an insurance adjustor to determine what was covered at the department and what they will be reimbursed for their damaged and stolen items. Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account has been set up to allow community members to donate to the department to help offset any replacement costs. That address is https://www.gofundme.com/buchanan-volunteer-fire-department.

Also, the Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest of the individuals responsible for the break-in. Rick Neely of Neely Roofing is contributing an additional $1,000 to the reward from now until March 1. If the reward goes unclaimed, Neely will instead donate that money as a matching fund to the BVFD to what is donated through GoFundMe, up to $1,000.

Anyone with information can contact Llano County Sheriff’s Office at 325-247-5050 or Crime Stoppers to remain anonymous by calling 866-756-8477 or online at www.hillcountryareacrimestoppers.com.

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