A Lee County fire station crew is in shock after a man posed as one of them and got away with one of their trucks on Sunday.
Brice DiGiorgio, 32, was arrested in Manatee County after leading deputies there on a slow-speed chase in brush truck #132.
WINK News asked Bayshore Fire and Rescue Chief Larry Nisbet how something like this could happen. He said that in his 33 years in the fire service in Lee County, it’s the first time he has seen it happen at his own department.
While Bayshore firefighters were responding to a call, DiGiorgio walked into the firehouse, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said.
“Keys are right here in the vehicle so he was able to jump into it, open the garage door right from there,” Nisbet said.
DiGiorgio then hit the road, even using the radio a time or two.
“He kept referring to himself as firefighter 21,” Nisbet explained. “He was saying he was going back to the station or he was stuck. He wanted to get into a gate. A lot of nonsense.”
What surprised Nisbet is that he couldn’t track the truck on its GPS, so the assumption is that DiGiorgio disabled it.
“I was surprised that he did it; it was underneath the seat.”
The department took to social media Sunday morning to find their truck, and the post was shared quickly. Someone eventually saw the truck in Manatee County, where DiGiorgio led deputies on a slow-speed chase before they caught him.
Nisbet said he’ll put new security measures in place so no one else walks in and drives away with a brush truck.
DiGiorgio is behind bars in Manatee County and faces multiple charges, including grand theft and impersonating a firefighter. His bond has been set at $31,000.