During a press briefing Sunday morning, CAL FIRE operations chief Mark Brunton said the theft happened while the crew member was taking care of business and directing firefighting crews.
RELATED: Santa Cruz Co. family robbed of trailer with belongings after evacuating home during wildfire
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office released photos of a suspect whom they believe stole the wallet from the firefighter's vehicle parked at the Bonny Doon Fire Station on Empire Grade Road while he was fighting the fire.
Detectives say the theft happened in the overnight hours of Aug. 21 to 22 and the suspect proceeded to use one of the stolen credit cards at the Shell gas station and Safeway on 41st Avenue in Capitola.
The suspect is described as a white male with light-colored, shoulder-length hair, last seen wearing a green SF Giants hat, white and black checkered face mask, black t-shirt, light blue jeans and black vans style shoes.
Brunton said the extent to which people will go is "sickening" and said this is the last thing firefighters should have to deal with as they work to contain the hundreds of thousands of acres burning across the state under limited resources.
"It's saddening. It's sickening," Brunton said. "We are doing everything we can to try to help the community and unfortunately this happens."
Really? REALLY!?? While a Fire Ground Commander was battling flames, someone stole his wallet from his work truck & DRAINED HIS BANK ACCOUNT! UNCONSCIONABLE! This is another reason why we must stay out of the evacuated zones, not only reducing injury, but keeping ALL LOOTERS OUT! pic.twitter.com/W4YDGR4byv— CAL FIRE CZU (@CALFIRECZU) August 23, 2020
Brunton reiterated the plea from officials that people evacuate the region. "Please again," he said. "If you're there, leave when asked to leave and let our folks get in there to do what they're doing."
WATCH: Officials give update on firefighter theft in Santa Cruz County
"To me, it's just mind-boggling that somebody would have the audacity to do something like that," said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart during a press briefing Sunday afternoon.
The robbery of a crew member comes after officials say they arrested five people on suspicion of looting from evacuated properties. "It's terrible and disgusting," Chief Deputy Chris Clark with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said on Friday. "These five decided to victimize several of our community members who are already hurting."
RELATED: CZU Lightning Complex Fire: Suspected Santa Cruz Co. looters ID'd, surveillance video shows theft
Come on, people.@CAL_FIRE says one of their crew members fighting the #CZULightningComplex had their car broken into, their belongings stolen and bank account drained.— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) August 23, 2020
They are also warning against scams (people pretending to be PG&E, etc.)
Authorities say there has been at least eight arrests, including the five identified with suspicion of looting and theft in Felton, Boulder Creek and Scotts Valley.
CAL FIRE says there is no official GoFundMe set up for the firefighter who had his wallet stolen so if you see any GoFundMe claiming to help him, use caution.
If you have any information, please call Detective Kenville at 831-359-8813.
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