At least one person has been arrested for allegedly stealing equipment from firefighters after they recovered from long shifts on the Detwiler Fire, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.
Tyler Allen Huggins-Boyle, 30 of Stockton, was arrested by area California Highway Patrol officers, the sheriff’s office said, for allegedly stealing $25,000 worth of gear from three firefighting strike teams all assigned to fight the blaze in Mariposa.
According to his Facebook page, Huggins-Boyle was working with the company Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression, Inc., a business made up of fire and land management crews that assist in emergencies, including the Detwiler Fire.
Sometime between 5:30 p.m. July 23 and 5 a.m. July 24, a yellow fire engine from the Rancho Santa Fe Office of Emergency Services was burglarized in Merced County, near a Quality Inn Hotel in Santa Nella, the office reported.
The Merced Sun-Star reported firefighters were asleep in the hotel after 24-hour shifts working on the massive wildfire.
A prying tool was used to break into the engine, where several items including hand-held radios, navy blue class B uniforms, a weather meter, boots, pants, helmets, and a spare engine key were all stolen.
Sheriff’s Detective Adam Deniz was put on the case, the sheriff’s office said, and put out a statewide alert regarding the theft while looking through surveillance footage taken at the scene.
During investigation, the Stockton CHP office contacted Deniz, saying they had located the stolen equipment in an allegedly stolen vehicle driven by Huggins-Boyle, its sole occupant.
Inside the vehicle was equipment stolen from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Rancho Santa Fe firefighting strike teams, the sheriff’s office said.
Additionally, there were items stolen from an air conditioning repair service company.
Huggins-Boyle was booked into San Joaquin County Jail without bail on charges including felony possession of a firearm, felony vehicle theft, and misdemeanor obstruction or resisting of a peace officer, as well as possession of narcotics with intention to sell.
Police took five reports of equipment being stolen from fire trucks, including at the Best Western Inn on Motel Drive, and at Holiday Inn Express on Parsons Avenue.
The Merced Sun-Star reported detectives from the sheriff’s office are speaking with Merced police on whether Huggins-Boyle was involved in any of those burglaries.