Metro

Cash stolen from charitable collection boot outside North End firehouse

Boston Fire Department

Police are searching for the scofflaw who stole cash from a boot that Boston firefighters have outside a North End firehouse to collect donations for muscular dystrophy research, officials said.

The theft occurred early Monday outside Engine 8 Ladder 1 on Hanover Street, according to Steve MacDonald, a Boston Fire Department spokesman.

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MacDonald and a police spokeswoman said the suspect made off with an undetermined amount of cash. No one is in custody, and the case remains under investigation.

“It’s obviously someone desperate who did this,” MacDonald said Thursday in a phone interview. “But it’s not going to deter the firefighters. They just fixed the boot and put it back out.”

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He said the Fire Department places boots outside some firehouses to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association based in Chicago, as do many departments across the country.

A sign by the boot outside Engine 8 clearly states that passersby who drop their loose change in the boot are supporting efforts to fight the medical condition, MacDonald said.

The boot, he said, is an “old-style fire boot” bolted to a metal box that is padlocked. The apparatus is connected to a cable that funnels the money to the firehouse. MacDonald said the thief cut the cable to get at the funds.

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But the neighborhood has rallied since the callous act.

MacDonald said locals have been “stopping by constantly” with donations since word of the theft spread, and a restaurant owner provided 10 gift certificates for the department to raffle off, with the proceeds going to the boot.

Another business owner dropped off a check for $1,000, and a third donor contributed a plastic bag full of quarters.

“It’s kind of indicative of the North End,” MacDonald said. “They’re very supportive of the firehouse.”

He said Engine 8 raises thousands of dollars every year for the charity.

“It’s unfortunate,” MacDonald said of the crime. “But as I said, it’s not going to stop the firefighters from helping them raise funds. They’re appreciative of all the folks in the North End and also the tourists who come by to help support” the cause.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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