The theft of crucial equipment will not stop the MHA Foundation from continuing to operate a COVID-19 testing site.
Starting May 19, the site will offer swab tests for active infections and antibody tests for past exposures from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Payson LDS church behind Banner Payson Medical Center.
Thieves broke in and stole equipment from a Northern Gila County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trailer over the weekend.
Sheriff Adam Shepherd reported thieves broke in twice, stealing thousands of dollars worth of equipment. A GoFundMe campaign was quickly launched to raise the money needed to replace the equipment.
“A great deal of equipment, including what was being used to conduct the testing, was taken and substantial damage was done to the trailer,” wrote Shepherd in a Facebook post.
Mac Feezor, a CERT volunteer, discovered the extensive damage on Saturday. He had gone to the test site in the morning to “replace a battery that was stolen Thursday night.”
“Found the access door popped open and the interior of the trailer was ransacked,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Items stolen include three generators, two Honda, two KVA units, one Patriot solar generator, six Wouxn KG-UV8X radios, one Anytone AT-D878UV radio, extended antennas, handheld mics, and two coolers.
“Please be on the lookout for anyone offering to sell these items,” he said.
Payson Police Chief Ron Tischer said detectives are investigating. He said no records were missing.
If anyone has information, call the non-emergency number (928-474-5177) and ask for Sgt. Michael McAnerny.
Shepherd hopes to raise $10,000 to replace equipment CERT uses “not only to this event, but all of the activities throughout the year.”
CERT provides volunteers to help with crowd control during the Town of Payson’s Fourth of July fireworks event. They also help at emergency scenes such as fires and floods throughout the year. The all-volunteer organization provides support with generators and communication equipment.