BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An Alsen Fire Department truck is now back where it belongs just 24 hours after being stolen.
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the $200,000 tanker truck was taken on a 200-mile joyride. Chief William Curtis says they had no idea the truck was gone until paramedics noticed it speeding down the interstate.
“If it wasn’t for EMS calling it in of him being at a high rate of speed going down 110 south, woulda’ probably been hours before we would have known about it,” Curtis said.
Police say Reggie Haile, 53, was the man behind the wheel. He reportedly told police he was driving the truck to get parts. Now, he’s charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, and he’s out of a job, but this isn’t the first time he’s been fired for stealing a fire truck.
Back in 2005, Haile took a truck on a similar joyride that also ended with him in handcuffs. The incident, which happened nearly 15 years ago, matches Wednesday night’s theft almost exactly. But the incident in 2005 wasn’t Haile’s first time stealing a fire truck. He’s also accused of stealing one from a Baton Rouge station back in December of 1999.
Chief Curtis says he knew about Haile’s past, but says his hands were tied because Haile was hired before he took over as chief in 2018.
“The former chief hired him,” Curtis said.
The chief believes part of the problem is that Haile was never formally charged in the past cases. This time, the department will press charges.
Livingston Parish officials were able to take Haile into custody between Walker and Juban Road after a tip led to the recovery of the truck, which was originally spotted in the parking lot of a store in Walker.
LPSO confirms a representative from the volunteer fire department has reclaimed the truck, which does not appear to have suffered any damage.