Aerial Firefighting Aircraft Burglarized

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With fire season coming early to the southwest, three aircraft and two helicopters operated by regional firefighters at the Grand Junction Interagency Air Center in Colorado were grounded Friday morning after it was found that burglars had entered the aircraft and stolen equipment. "Tens of thousands of dollars" worth of pilot gear and equipment is missing from the facility, according to The Grand Junction Sentinel. The aircraft were temporarily grounded, inspected for vandalism or sabotage and "almost all" were then cleared for service by Friday night, the paper reported. The criminals had to contend with an access-code-protected front gate and/or a barbed-wire fence that surrounds the facility, which is itself within the grounds of Grand Junction Regional Airport. The center, managed jointly by BLM and U.S. Forest Service in conjuction with the National Park Service and State Forest Service, coordinates air tankers, smoke jumpers and other fire support services for operations in western Colorado and eastern Utah.

The facility is looking at ways to increase security and has already taken short-term measures to further secure the property. At this time, police believe more than one individual was involved in the burglary. Police are requesting citizens who have any information to call Crime Stoppers at (970) 241-STOP.