Several fire stations in the Netherlands have had their hydraulic tools broken into and stolen in the past year. The fire brigade uses these tools to free people who are trapped in their cars after an accident, for example. Each set is worth 30,000 euros.
Last month, the fire brigades in Reuver and Venlo were burgled. “We were quite shocked by this,” says Tineke Smedts, team leader of the Incident Response Fire Brigade in the Investigation Requested programme. “Operational materials have been removed that normally save lives.”
Last year was also a hit at barracks in Boekelo, Wilnis and Heerde. At some locations burglars even struck several times.
“Difference of life and death
It is important that every barracks has those materials lying around, says Pieter Verlijsdonk, post commander of the fire brigade in Reuver. “If we are alerted to a traffic accident and we find out at the barracks that we don’t have these materials at our disposal, it can be a difference of life and death,” he says. “It will take a quarter of an hour longer before another fire brigade unit with the appropriate materials can be on site.”
The police are also worried about it, because the equipment can be used in other criminal activities. “That makes us worried about the thefts for two reasons: the fire brigade needs that stuff to save people and criminals use it to commit crimes,” says a spokesperson.
In Investigation Inquired, the police call anyone who sees anything suspicious at a fire station to report it immediately. “And of course we’re looking for eyewitnesses to the burglaries already committed. We also want to ask people to report it if they find this type of equipment somewhere. It may be stored somewhere or it may be offered for sale.”