Toronto firefighter charged in fire station robberies
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TORONTO — Police have laid six charges against a Toronto firefighter they allege lured people out of fire stations so he could rob them.
Toronto police say there were three such incidents they now attribute to 35-year-old Joshua Pittarelli-Bucks, who has worked as a Toronto firefighter since 2006.
Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson says the first such incident took place in July of last year.
Hopkinson says a false alarm was called into a local station using a borrowed cellphone, and alleges that Pittarelli-Bucks stole a number of personal items from the fire station while crew members were out responding to the bogus blaze.
Five weeks later, Hopkinson says the scenario played out again twice on the same night.
The second time, he said the fire chief of the target station gave chase and recognized the alleged thief.
"When the fire chief returned to the station, he noticed a man leaving through the back of the station holding a backpack," he said. "When he caught up to the man, he immediately recognized him as a firefighter that he had worked with."
Hopkinson said Pittarelli-Bucks managed to flea the scene, but was eventually arrested.
The charges he faces now include three counts of break and enter, public mischief, making a false alarm and cocaine possession.
Hopkinson says the investigation is ongoing.
City of Toronto spokeswoman Wynna Brown says Pittarelli-Bucks is still technically a fire services employee, but adds he has been "out of the workplace" since last June just weeks before the incidents began.
She said the city is taking the allegations against him very seriously and co-operating with police in their investigation.
"The City of Toronto does not speak to personnel issues; we are unable to address further questions, pending the outcome of legal proceedings," she said in a statement.