Firefighters bring good cheer — and some cash — to 91-year-old Brighton robbery victim

Brighton, MA -- 12/11/12 -- Jospeh Pacitto speaks to the press about his story as Capt. Brian Tully(left) and firefighter James Reidy(center) listen. The Brighton District 11 firefighters collected a monetary gift to give Pacitto after hearing a story about thieves posing as landscapers and stealing money from his home in late October of this year. (Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe)
Joseph Pacitto spoke to the media about his story today as Captain Brian Tully and Firefighter James Reidy listened.Credit: Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

Local firefighters surprised a 91-year-old Brighton man with a generous holiday gift after hearing that he had been scammed several weeks ago by two men posing as landscapers.

Since his return in 1946 from serving in World War II, Joseph Pacitto has lived in his home on Market Street, where he cares for his 77-year-old disabled brother. In late October, he was approached by two men who stated they were landscapers who were trimming some trees, and asked him to step outside to make sure that they would not hit his house.

Moments later, Pacitto saw one of the men running out his back door, and his grocery money had been stolen from his home.

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About 20 firefighters, including two trucks, came to Pacitto’s home Tuesday afternoon to present him with money they had collected.

“Everyone’s being so nice to me,” Pacitto said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I was surprised that they gave me a call. I didn’t know that they would do this.”

James Reidy, a two-year Boston firefighter and US Marine Corps veteran, spearheaded the fundraiser after his sister-in-law sent him a link to the story, since the incident took place close to his firehouse.

“I was shocked that people would try and scam this man,” Reidy said. “So I showed some of the guys at the firehouse. Most of us are vets too, so it hit home for all of us.”

Reidy put up a sign in his firehouse to donate, and soon the entire Brighton district became involved in helping out Pacitto and his brother.

“The envelope just kept getting fatter and fatter,” Reidy said. “And these are hard times, but everyone stepped up and gave what they could.”

After presenting Pacitto the gift, the firefighters spent some time with him, listening to his stories from World War II.

“It was great to shake his hand and wish him a Merry Christmas,” Reidy said. “He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

The amount of money given to Pacitto is being withheld since he experienced another attempted robbery after the first incident, but family members are helping Pacitto keep the funds safe.

“We told him that he has a hundred or so more friends in the Brighton area keeping an eye and looking out for him,” Reidy said. “He’s in good hands.”

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