UPDATE 2: John Hindermeyer, 37, of 225 Pine Street, was charged with conspiracy to commit theft and corruption of a minor in connection with the theft. See full details by reading the Times News story: http://www.tnonline.com/2015/nov/11/2nd-man-charged-firefighting-tools-theft.
A 16-year-older male was taken into custody, and another being questioned, after possibly working together to steal over $13,000 worth of firefighting equipment from firefighters battling a suspicious house fire today at a duplex property in Tamaqua.
Items taken included new digital radios, radio charging banks, flashlights, hand tools, breathing apparatus and more, according to firefighters.
UPDATE: The duplex fire was ruled arson by Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Trooper John Burns. The fire was set on the second floor of 208 Biddle Street, a vacant/condemned property. The other half of the duplex (206 Biddle Street) was not vacant and lived in my a boy and his disabled mother.
The theft of equipment occurred behind 225 / 227 Pine Street in Tamaqua after firefighters with Citizens Fire Company and South Ward Fire Company parked their fire trucks on Water Street to help reach the rear of a house fire on the 200 block of Biddle Street.
While firefighters were battling the fire, one or two people stole equipment from the Citizen’s Fire Company truck. The most expensive equipment included two digital radios, which cost $6,000 each.
Since most of the firefighters were on scene of the fire, no one was able to see the theft until the final moments. A firefighter said the thief must have went back and forth numerous times. The firefighter added that the thief placed multiple items inside the back of a green Jeep parked within a short distance of the fire truck. The parked Jeep was located in the backyard of 225/227 Pine Street (SR309).
“I can’t believe they stole from our department’s fire trucks in broad daylight,” said volunteer Jason Hartz, Captain, Citizen’s Fire Company. “This have never happened before.”
Firefighters on scene said that one of the two young men might have been a lookout while the other stole the items, adding that one ran when approached.
With help from witnesses, Tamaqua police were able to apprehend and identify one of the suspects hiding inside a nearby apartment building.
Firefighters stated they estimate that a minimum of $13,000 worth of equipment was taken. It is unknown if all items were recovered.
Hearing about the theft, a nearby neighbor could be overheard saying, “You don’t mess with firefighters,” adding, “They better move far away from here if they know what is best for them.”
Tamaqua Police are investigating. Due to their ages, the suspect(s) names can’t be given.
The information above is via witnesses and neighbors. Nothing is official until a press release or police report is given.
Anyone with information about the arson or theft is encouraged to call Tamaqua Police at 570-668-5000.
(Click HERE to view the story on the WNEP TV website.) Credited TamaquaArea.com.