Washington County, Tennessee EMTs received a surprising call on Tuesday. "This past Tuesday an individual found one of our sonar units floating in the lake," said Captain Dan Wheeley.
Wheeley tells us they acted quickly and found exactly what they expected. After they got to the boat, Washington County Officials noticed the door on the boat had been broken open; all of the contents inside had been stolen.
These items were worth nearly $16,000. "[They stole] two complete diving sets of public safety dive gear, dry suits, SCUBA gear and full-faced aqua masks," said Wheeley.
We learned thieves also made off with medical equipment, an automatic external defibrillator and a few life jackets. Wheeley tells us they are working to catch the criminals. "We've notified all of the local dive shops in case anyone tries to sell the equipment," he said.
Adventure Diving shop owner Alan Linkous says he is always on the lookout for stolen equipment. "The first thing that gives me a clue is when they come in here and don't want much for it. If it's really cheap it's probably a bad deal," he said.
Wheeley says his organization does have insurance but it may not be enough to cover the cost. "The problem with our insurance is that it pays for that current value, not replacements," he explained.
He also told us the boat is now operational, but it will take three to four weeks to get the new gear. That could hamper rescue efforts, something Wheeley and Linkous worry about. "It's used for saving lives and rescue, and now they're sitting over there without equipment. If something comes up, what do you do?" asked Linkous.
Wheeley says equipment can be replaced but the lives of those they serve are more important.