Phoenix police identify firefighter arrested in fire station thefts

Authorities say a 36-year-old Phoenix firefighter broke into various fire stations and stole from colleagues, even setting fires to keep them away.

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The firefighter, according to Phoenix Police sergeant Alan Pfohl, was arrested in the area of 19th Avenue and Bell Road. On Friday night, hours after the news conference, the firefighter was identified as Ryan Donahue.

Donahue, according to Sgt. Pfohl, has been with the Phoenix Fire Department for 11 years.

Police also said the man hit up at least eight different stations around Phoenix, one as recently as Friday morning. The thefts, according to investigators, involved several hundred dollars, and began just after the new year.

The firefighter, according to Sgt. Pfohl, was arrested on multiple charges, including eight counts of theft, one count of criminal damage, one count of burglary, and two counts of arson.

Sgt. Pfohl said, during the news conference, that the fires may have been started as a diversion.

According to police, several firefighters reported cash missing from their wallets. Sgt. Pfohl said the crimes go back to the beginning of January, and occurred while crews were away on calls and the suspect was off duty.

"Every shift, firefighters go shopping," said Phoenix Fire captain Larry Subervi. "A lot of people see them at the supermarkets. There's a collection during the shift, so when we collect the money and get ready to go shopping, it just seemed like that's when a lot of calls were going out so they haven't collected the money yet, or the money was still laying around, and noticed the pattern where some of the money was missing".

According to a statement released late Friday night, Phoenix firefighters have reported thefts from fire stations throughout the Valley, for the past five to six weeks, and police developed information that led them to believe the suspect was a firefighter, about two weeks ago.

Following his arrest, police said Donahue admitted to detectives his involvement in various crimes.

According to court documents, it is believed that substance abuse and financial trouble drove Donahue to steal money. Donahue was released without bond.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.