2 Charged With Stealing From Firefighters Battling Calif. Blaze

The suspects' own shoe prints helped bust them
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2016 10:45 AM CDT
2 Charged With Stealing From Firefighters Battling Calif. Blaze
A house in Lower Lake, Calif., lies in ruins due to the Clayton fire on Aug. 14, 2016.   (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

What better way to thank the firefighters risking their lives to put out a forest fire in your community than by robbing them blind? Such is the case for US Forest Service firefighters as they arrived at a landfill Wednesday morning outside of Clearlake, Calif., ready to start working to contain the Clayton fire, Lake County News reports. A white Chevy pickup truck with two men inside was driving away just as they got there, and when the firefighters examined their bulldozers, which they used to create fire containment lines, there were shoe prints (not the firefighters') on and near the bulldozers. Further investigation revealed a bunch of the firefighters' gear to help them fight the blaze had been lifted from the vehicles, including a chainsaw, an emergency fire shelter, and a portable GPS unit.

Clearlake cops spotted a vehicle matching the Chevy's description later that day rendezvousing with another truck, and they say most of the stolen gear (sans the GPS device) was found inside the trucks. Drivers Larry Hunter, 52, and Paul Albini, 47—both sporting footwear that matched the footprints found on the bulldozers—were arrested and charged on suspicion of grand theft and possession of methamphetamine, the Press Democrat reports. Bail for each was set at $15,000 before their scheduled Tuesday arraignments. (A California wildfire recently took out an iconic diner.)

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