While Jeff Prouty was out helping others during the ice storm, others were helping themselves to valuables in his Martinez home.
The Columbia County Fire Rescue employee returned to his Old Evans Road home after a 24-hour shift on
Feb. 13 – his birthday – to find his house ransacked.
Prouty, 40, said he had worked all day and night to help clear debris
from Columbia County roads, even responding to some medical calls for stranded residents. In all, the department handled more than 360 calls
Feb. 12, Prouty said.
After parking his truck in his driveway, he walked around back to check for storm damage. When he rounded the corner, he found his rear sliding glass door wide open and knew something was wrong.
“It was clear that somebody had been here,” Prouty said. “Things were thrown about. The house was basically ransacked. I was definitely shocked.”
Prouty immediately checked his bedroom, where most of his gun collection was stored, and found his closet completely destroyed.
His gun cabinet was stripped of its contents – mostly firearms that had been passed down through the family. Among the guns stolen was his Mossberg 835 Tactical Turkey shotgun that he had spent years saving money to buy.
In shock, Prouty called 911 but was unable to tell the operator his address. “It took me a few minutes to get my bearings,” he said.
After gathering himself, Prouty was able to fill out a report with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, but he quit listing the items stolen after he reached the bottom of the third page.
“I stopped counting at $8,000,” Prouty said.
Gone was a 50-inch television and a PlayStation 4 that Prouty had bought as a Christmas present for his 13-year-old son, Gage, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.
His sister-in-law, Jocelyn Prouty, said she is amazed at the support he has received since the break-in.
The family created a page on GoFundMe.com to help offset the cost of replacing the stolen items. As of Friday evening, it had raised more than $6,000 toward its $10,000 goal.
“Some of the comments (on the Web site) are just wonderful, and they’re people who don’t even know Jeff,” she said.
Prouty said he doesn’t dwell on the burglary.
“The main things that I lost were possessions that took a long time to achieve,” Prouty said. “But at the end of the day, we’re OK. I still have a job and I can still provide.”