ROCKINGHAM —The Richmond County Rescue Squad is in the process of trying to price equipment after one of its vehicles was stolen and set on fire over the weekend.
“There’s no sense in it,” Volunteer Chief Scott Waters said Monday, on his way back to the station. “It’s very disheartening. I just can’t believe someone would want to do a first responder organization like that.”
Waters said the squad’s rescue truck was last known to be secured around 7 p.m. Saturday when one of the junior members left after cutting grass.
The chief said he received a call Sunday morning from another member saying: “We have a problem.”
Whoever stole it, Waters said, broke into the Rockingham Road station through the back door and caused more damage inside getting to the bay. The perpetrator or perpetrators also had to move a car out of the way before backing the truck out of a rear bay door.
The squad posted about the missing truck on its Facebook page, saying it had a lot of rescue equipment on it including the jaws of life and other extraction tools, a generator, lights, large wrenches, traffic cones, jacks, rakes, shovels and brooms. Waters said the equipment is valued at more than $100,000.
The truck was later found burned in a wooded area in eastern Anson County, near Lilesville.
Some of the equipment was stolen from the truck while other items were burned with the vehicle.
Waters said he considers the station sacred, like a church.
“We’re all volunteers,” he said. “We don’t get paid” to respond to emergency calls.
The squad does get some money from the county for operational expenses each year, but what that doesn’t cover comes from grants and fundraisers, like the annual barbecue plate sale each May.
Even if the squad does receive a grant, most of those require a 50-50 match.
The truck that was stolen, for example, had half its $50,000 cost paid through a grant from the N.C. Fire Marshal’s office, Waters said. The squad had to pay the remaining $25,000.
During the squad’s fundraisers, Waters said members will often pay some of the minor expenses out of pocket just to help the squad maximize the profit.
Waters has been with the rescue squad since graduating high school in 1989 and became chief on Sept. 11, 2001.
The truck was also stolen on the anniversary of the death of former rescue squad member Joe Kester, Waters said.
Waters said he is thankful to the Rockingham Police Department and all other agencies assisting in the investigation.
He hopes the case will be solved and that those responsible will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.
Several benefit fundraisers are already being planned to help the rescue squad.
Squad member Mike Stokes has set up a GoFundMe page, which had raised $75 by 3 p.m. Monday.
Stokes is also a member of the Steel Wheels Riding Club, which is planning a benefit motorcycle ride for Sunday, July 28.
Details are still being worked out, but Joey Bostick said the band Dark Horse will be playing.
“I’m hoping we can have a crowd of bikes,” Bostick said.
For more information on the ride, contact Stokes at 910-417-7777 or Bostick at 910-417-9537.
Adrenaline Pro Wrestling, which has held shows at the station since early 2018 is also planning a special event to benefit the squad.
The organization has also offered two free tickets to any show at the station for anyone donating $50 or more to the GoFundMe account.