Thief takes firefighter's gear during graduation celebration


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WEST VALLEY CITY -- A firefighter, brand new on the job, had a bit of bad luck last week.

Colby Robison graduated from the West Valley Fire Academy Sept. 30 and was celebrating at a local restaurant. While inside, someone broke into his car and stole something invaluable in protecting lives.

The thief took Robison's personal protective equipment, or turnout gear -- the uniform firefighters wear to keep them safe while in harm's way.

"Came out and my window was broken out and all my stuff was gone," Robison told KSL News Thursday.

"They were actually still in the boxes," he continued. "I hadn't even tried them on, so they didn't know what was inside of the them. They just saw two white boxes and thought 'maybe this might be something of value.'"

The thief also took Robison's backpack, which contained his fire books and his badge.

"The badge is probably the worst. I had only had it less than an hour and it was gone," Robison said. "[I] worked really hard to get that and it was gone."

Robison said he couldn't believe someone would steal all his gear and was a little nervous about catching some heat from his boss.

"[I] called up my captain that night and told him -- and I was scared to tell him, but he was really good about it," Robison said.

The West Valley City Fire Department outfitted Robison for new gear. Fire Marshal Bob Fitzgerald says turnout gears costs about $2,000. It is valuable to firefighters, he said, but to anyone else it's not worth much.

"Whether they discarded them, or try to sell it on eBay, or use it as a Halloween costume, it's kind of a sad thing that someone would do that," Fitzgerald said.

Robison fought his first fire wearing someone else's gear.

Every firefighter has turnout gear fitted specifically for him or her. Robison said he'd like to get it back for the department, but he isn't holding out much hope.

If you have any information on who may have taken the gear, contact the West Valley City Police Department at 801-840-4000.

E-mail: aforester@ksl.com

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