Fire chief walks in on break-in at volunteer fire station; leads to arrest

By Nathan Takitch – WSAZ 3


SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A man is in jail after leaders of a volunteer fire department say he broke into one of their facilities.

Joseph Rayhill is charged with breaking in at the Sissonville VFD “Loftis” sub-station off Edens Fork Road. Firefighters say it happened Saturday morning.

Surveillance video shows a person, firefighters say is Rayhill, using the light on their phone to go through the station. They say he rummaged through their trucks and gathered wires with copper and other supplies, stashing them outside.

“Gut feeling? He was here to take some stuff to make some quick money,” Assistant Chief Mike Oakley said. “For somebody to come in to our house, it’s very offensive.”

Leaders with the department say nothing was stolen after the Fire Chief, Tim Gooch, stopped by during the break-in.

“[He] was on his way home from work,” Oakley said. “When he drove by the station he noticed a vehicle that did not belong to any of our members and he notices one of the doors to the fire station ajar.”

Oakley says when Gooch opened the door to investigate, Rayhill met him in the doorway, attempting to leave “scot-free.”

“The male says he ‘Don’t want any trouble.’ Oakley said. “The fire chief says, ‘Well you’re kinda already in trouble dude.'”

He peeled out, but not before the chief caught Rayhill’s license plate.

Rayhill was arrested less than an hour later in Jackson County. He ended up being charged for the break-in and for having an illegal gun in his possession.

Despite the arrest, neighbors like Holly Goodwin say it’s disturbing to see someone mess with a place that keeps everyone safe.

“I don’t understand why somebody would think that would be okay,” Goodwin said. “What if our house caught on fire and…they wasn’t able to do their job?”

“There’s a moral compass that’s definitely screwed up at this point,” Oakley said. “It should offend the community.”

Firefighters at the station say they plan on putting in extra security measures to try to ensure this doesn’t happen again.