"They probably came up with some kind of crow bar, stuck it in there and then popped the door open," said Contra Costa Co. Fire Capt. Robert Marshall.
And just like that, the thieves were inside Fire Station 7 in Walnut Creek. The station was empty Sunday and Monday because all of the firefighters had rushed out to fight the Morgan Fire atop Mount Diablo.
The burglars broke into lockers, desks, and gym bags and stole money, the captain's iPad and personal of items like the wedding band and watch engineer Judon Cherry's wife gave him.
"You are out there saving other citizens' lives and property and helping them preserve theirs and you come back and to see your house has been violated," said Cherry.
"It's just a slap in the face. Who thinks to do that kind of thing?" said Marshall.
But this wasn't just a onetime thing.
Those at Station 7 think the same thieves went to Station 3 across town, the very next day. They tried to break in through a window, but a sleeping firefighter who was just inches away from the window, heard the commotion and scared the thief away. Those who live in this normally quiet community can't believe what's happened.
"Oh my gosh, that's horrible! My gosh, that surprises me!" said Walnut Creek resident Beth Anne Gardner.
"That's very, very sad. It's just kind of disturbing!" said Walnut Creek resident Javid Dean.
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is now considering installing security cameras and extra locks at all of the fire stations.