GUILFORD COUNTY—As Charlotte police make an arrest in a string of break-ins at fire departments across the state, including four in Guilford County, firefighters are taking a close look at security plans at their stations and what they can do to improve.
Summerfield Fire Chief Chris Johnson says he never thought he'd see someone break into cars at a fire station.
"Our men and women put their lives on the line every day when they come to work, and you'd never think a firefighter would be targeted for this,” Johnson said.
But police say a Charlotte man, 26-year-old Johnny Bing, broke into a total of 15 firefighters' cars at Summerfield Station 39, along with Greensboro stations 5, 7 and 8.
"We did meet with staff to discuss what can we do to help prevent this,” said Greensboro Fire Chief Bobby Nugent. “We’re looking at some strategies about what can we do to keep our people's vehicles safe.
All of the fire stations that were broken into are older, and unfortunately do not have cameras. Both Chief Johnson and Chief Nugent's goal in the future is to retrofit these stations with extra security.
"We want to look at something for outside the stations to help protect the firefighters' vehicles and personal equipment,” Johnson said. “We’re also going to monitor a little better what's going on outside. This has opened our eyes."
"We've talked about a strategy in our budget to start going back and replacing stations with cameras that do not have them,” Nugent said. “Our newer stations already do."
Greensboro police have also stepped up patrols around fire departments.
"This prompted us to go into immediate action,” said Deputy Chief James Hinson, Jr. “We placed several officers in and around those locations to focus on the problem."
Authorities are still asking for the public's help with the case.
If you may have seen something, call Crime Stoppers at 336-373-1000.