BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- Lakewood firefighters say someone stole the 4-wheel drive chain to their brush truck. A move that could have had deadly consequences if they didn't catch it.
Lakewood firefighters were doing routine equipment fix-ups Sunday, when they noticed a key part of their brush truck was missing.
"Realized somebody had helped themselves to one of the main components of our 4-wheel drive, our drive line that goes to the front end," said Chief Paul Weber.
Weber said the part costs $300 to replace - but would have cost more if they hadn't discovered it.
"This could have caused some of my people to get injured or even killed. If we'd had to lock in that 4-wheel drive and realized we didn't have that 4-wheel drive to get out of there."
He said stolen and vandalized equipment is becoming a serious problem. So much so that they've had to install a new security system.
"We've called the Sheriff's Department out. OHP has come out a few times and taken reports for us," he said.
Weber said the crimes are hurting the departments ability to respond to fires, especially when people siphon fuel out of vehicles.
"You go to crank that pump up and it don't start. You're looking at what's causing it not to start. And come to find out, when you realize it's just because a simple 'you don't have no fuel,'" he said. "It's not a mechanical thing. It's happened to us way too many times.", and he said it's the public that suffers.
"It's all over a couple of gallons of gas that goes in that pump that could save someone's life or property," he said.
Weber urges the public to report anything suspicious.
"This is your money. This is your fire department. We need you as much as you need us. We need to be able to respond when that tone drops," he said.
Weber said anyone who sees anything suspicious can call him - day or night - at 580-380-8241.