"Maybe he’s confused about what these devices are!" – exasperated police release photos of man who keeps tampering with wildfire equipment

Hikers in the haze at Sequoia National Park
California officials have taken to social media to try to identify the man who has been caught on camera interfering with wildfire detection equipment in open spaces (Image credit: Jordan Siemens)

Most hikers in California are well aware of the extreme danger of wildfires that exists for most of the year, but one man seems to have missed the memo. Police in Irvine, California are seeking the public's help after security footage caught the same man tampering with wildfire detection equipment multiple times.

In a Facebook post, which you can view below, Irvine PD writes that the man has been disabling and damaging the equipment, which they describe as "critical" for wildfire safety and management, in the open space near Lake Forest and Bake Parkway in Orange County.

The news release comes accompanied by several images of the gray or light-haired man caught from nearby security footage, which show him riding a bike into the area and climbing a fence to access the equipment. He is always dressed in light hiking shoes, white hiking socks and cargo shorts. In one image, he is wearing a long-sleeved base layer while another reveals him in a "National Parks" T-shirt, prompting some Facebook users to speculate he may have misguided ideological reasons for his actions.

"Interesting he has a National Parks shirt on like he cares about conservation etc. Maybe he’s confused about what these devices actually are!" writes one user.

Posted by IrvinePD on 

Other commenters have offered up more creative explanations for the bizarre behavior, with one person suggesting it goes back to a popular COVID conspiracy theory:

"Check the 5g conspiracy groups. Good chance you'll find him in one of those."

Whatever the reason, the man's mysterious actions result in damage to taxpayer property and, if he prevents a wildfire from being detected early, could result in further damage to property, destruction of natural ecosystems and loss of life. If you have information about this man, please email ipdpio@cityofirvine.org

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.