VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The bikes in the pump house at Valdosta Fire Department station 1, bikes which the Valdosta Fire Department has been collecting to give as Christmas gifts to children in the city, would be gone if it wasn't for the sharp eyes of Valdosta Fire Department Lt. Justin Ply and Sgt. Caron Wright.
"We saw the window open that we had previously screwed shut the morning of the incident," said Lt. Ply, as he recalled discovering a suspicious open window on the pump house around 7:15 p.m. on August 29th.
"As we pulled in, Lt. Ply jumped out and the suspects, or the trespassers, were coming out of these windows right over here," said Sgt. Wright, as he walked through the parking lot next to the pump house.
Lt. Ply and Sgt. Wright chased the suspects, and Sgt. Douglas Bennett and Firefighter Lamar Berrian joined in to help.
"In my mind, you're taking a smile away from a kid that can't enjoy Christmas. So, I felt it was my duty to help that kid enjoy Christmas by catching these bad juveniles," said Berrian.
The firefighters say bolt cutters and a backpack with tools for taking apart the bikes were found inside the pump house. They say the juveniles had made eight bikes ready to steal.
"One of them dove out of that window when we come up. He dove out of that window there," Lt. Ply explained as he walked around the pump house.
Lt. Ply says the juvenile ran towards the nearby fence, but he gave up before he could get over it.
The firefighters say Several bikes have been stolen from the pump house in recent weeks, and in one of the cases one person was arrested. In this most recent case, four juveniles were seen running from the pump house.
Two were caught, but two got away.
"We won't be able to give out as many bicycles this year as we previously have, and that kind of lets us down a little bit," said Sgt. Bennett.
Lt. Ply, Sgt. Wright, and Sgt. Douglas were all named October employees of the month at the city of Valdosta's October 8th city council meeting. Berrian is still a probationary firefighter and was therefore not eligible for the award, but he was recognized at the meeting.