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Thief steals Utah firefighter's life-saving gear

Barrett Lajeunesse, a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority, is using borrowed gear that keeps him safe on his job after someone stole thousands of dollars worth of his equipment from the back of an SUV. (Stuart Johnson, KSL-TV)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A local firefighter is using borrowed gear that keeps him safe on his job after someone stole thousands of dollars of his equipment from the back of an SUV.

The equipment belonged to Barrett Lajeunesse, a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority. It was in the back of his Jeep in two huge duffle bags when it was stolen on Saturday night while he was at the University of Utah football game against the Oregon Ducks.

"Devastating. I mean. It was just, I was speechless," said Lajeunesse to KSL after he noticed the bags were gone. Lajeunesse is back at work but wearing borrowed gear.

"I'm even in a borrowed T-shirt and pants right now just to make sure that I can work today," he said.

Lajeunesse has been a firefighter for 13 years. His current position has him roaming from station to station.

On Saturday he packed all his gear in the duffle bags, one red, the other black, so that he would be ready to go straight to his station in Holladay.

Unfortunately, he believes he made a huge mistake and left his Jeep unlocked. The University of Utah Police Department is now investigating, searching for possible surveillance video.

"I believe what happened is — it was a crime of opportunity. Maybe they were checking vehicles and they found one that was open," said Lajeunesse.

Barrett estimated he lost $8,000 to $10,000 worth of equipment including his coat, boots, helmet, fire pants and oxygen mask. Plus, there were also sentimental items he had collected over the 13 years of firefighting.

"I actually had some custom patches that were attached to (my coat) and helmet badges as well," he said.

He's hoping someone decides the equipment has no value and turns it in. "It has the department's name on it, it has my name on it, you can leave it at any firehouse, ring doorbell, leave without even talking anybody."

Regardless of what happens, the work goes on.

"That's the way it is we're resilient. We do our job and we push forward," he said.

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Dan Rascon

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