Phoenix firefighter arrested for stealing from fire stations, setting fire

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(Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Facebook) (Source: Facebook)

A Phoenix firefighter is under arrest, accused stealing from his fellow firefighters. 

Phoenix police say 36-year-old Ryan Donahue is responsible for setting at least two dumpster fires to lure crews out of their fire stations so he could let himself in and take cash. 

In the last five to six weeks, firefighters at multiple stations noticed cash had gone missing from their wallets and from the kitty used to buy meals for crews.

"Obviously this person knew what he was looking for," said Pfohl. "As a firefighter, he knows everyone's going to leave the station. so he was waiting till everyone has left in order to commit this crime." 

This past week, investigators identified Donahue as the one they believe is responsible for those thefts.

On Friday morning, detectives doing surveillance caught Donahue in the act.

He was taken into custody Friday near 19th Avenue and Bell Road.

Donahue was released from Maricopa County Jail around 2 p.m. on Saturday "on his own recognizance," according to a jail official.

Donahue is also on unpaid leave pending further investigation, according to Phoenix Fire Department.

Pfohl says since the start of the year, crimes were committed at 18 fire stations around Phoenix. He says this suspect is only linked to eight of those, but adds the investigation is ongoing. 

Police are recommending eight counts of theft, one count of burglary, one count of criminal damage and two counts of arson.

Donahue had been with the department for 11 years, most recently as a rover, working at various stations rather than just one. 

Phoenix fire says he was off-duty at the time of the thefts.

"It's difficult for us," said Phoenix fire captain Larry Subervi. "We are a family. So when there's a theft, any type of theft, whether it's internal or external, it's difficult for us."

The Phoenix Fire Department says it has already tightened its security and plans to add cameras to the stations that don't already have them.

On Sunday, United Phoenix Firefighters, Local 493 released a statement saying:

We are deeply saddened by the recent arrest of a Phoenix Firefighter and the negative example it places on our members who deeply value the trust the public puts in us. Under those blue shirts we are human. Albeit rare, we are sometimes and unfortunately susceptible to failure like anyone else.

 The United Phoenix Firefighters and Phoenix Fire Department have numerous, nationally recognized and highly effective resources and programs in place to keep our members healthy and productive. As good as they are, it is sadly impossible for these programs to function with absolute success.

 We aren’t angry or resentful, we are empathetic towards our brother whose personal life apparently degraded to a point where he was willing to risk so much. We are forgiving of his transgressions and pray for he and his family.

 Moving forward, we remain passionately committed to protecting our communities and serving it’s citizens with unwavering dedication. This too shall pass and will not define us.

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