JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) -The Walker County Marine Search and Rescue squad is missing about $12,000 worth of life-saving equipment, including four of their five donated rescue boats. The all-volunteer organization responds to search, rescue, and recovery operations in marine environments.
“The whole thing is donations,” explained Bryan Carlton, the group’s Secretary/Treasurer. “We have no funding–other than by donations.”
“So it takes life-saving equipment away from the community.”
Carlton arrived at the group’s building where they store the boats to mow the grass Friday morning when he noticed that the front door had been damaged. When he walked through the building, he was shocked to see that the boats had been stolen through a back bay. He believes that the suspects tried to pull the last boat from the bay, but that they couldn’t fit it through the space. The boat’s decays had been vandalized and covered in a reflective material that he thinks is normally used on ventilation ducts. The suspects also nabbed tools, generators, a chainsaw, and other rescue supplies.
“These people come and donate their time and their money and these are the resources that they have been donated to them by other people,” said Captain Daryl Atkins with Jasper PD’s Criminal Investigation Division. “It’s just very sad that someone would break in and steal these items.”
Jasper Police believe that someone in the area knows something. They are encouraging people to call the department (205) 221-2121 or CrimeStoppers at (205) 254-7777.
“Now we don’t have the boats to go and respond,” said Carlton. “If the people that took them has a problem, we can’t even help them. So it takes life-saving equipment away from the community.”