Fire chief calls local criminals 'just plain dumb' - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fire chief calls local criminals 'just plain dumb'

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One fire chief is calling some local criminals 'just plain dumb' after they were caught on camera.

The Bremer County Sheriff's Department says Nicholas Schwartz, 28, and Stephany Hewitt, 28, both from Janesville, are the two people in surveillance video outside the Frederika Fire Department.  The video shows a man and a woman stealing bags of cans, not once, but twice from a collection cage outside the fire department.

The cans are donated by the residents to pay for Frederika's annual 4th of July fireworks display.

The two decided it was so easy, they came back in a different car two weeks later to steal even more than the first time.  Despite their efforts to avoid getting caught, like switching cars and coming in the early morning hours, the thieves missed some important details, a 24-hour surveillance sign and two security cameras. 

"I put a sign right there, and they are reaching over the sign to get it," said Frederika's Fire Chief Jason Scanlan.

It was that head-scratcher that prompted the chief to post to Facebook, calling the can cage an easy way to catch scum, and calling the thieves 'just plain dumb.'

"They are good customers of the Bremer County Sheriff's Department, Butler, and Black Hawk. So as soon as they saw it, they knew right away who it was," said Chief Scanlan.

The two might have gotten away with it if a local store hadn't noticed some of their cans were missing, which prompted Chief Scanlan to check the cameras.

I think, they think it is a small town, that no one notices. In reality, in a small town, everybody notices.  If you are a stranger in town, they will notice you," said Chief Scanlan.

In a town of roughly 200, these thieves stole from the entire community.

"It is very frustrating. This is how we pay for the fireworks. Every little bit helps," said Chief Scanlan.

Chief Scanlan also thanked the Bremer County Sheriff's Department for their good work in his Facebook post.  But Sheriff Dan Pickett says the increase in private security cameras in the county has helped make their job easier.

Pickett also told KWWL that the charges against Schwartz are still pending because Schwartz has been in the custody of the Grundy County Sheriff's Department.  He is also charged with stealing lotto tickets from a gas station in Grundy County.

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