A small-town police chief has been fired after he was convicted of stealing beer from the fire department's refrigerator.

The city council in Wilson on Monday fired chief Brian Hill, effective Jan. 25. He has the option of a hearing within the next two weeks.

Hill was arrested Aug. 1 after a surveillance tape showed him taking the beer. He was convicted of misdemeanor theft on Dec. 26 and given probation. He had been suspended without pay pending an appeal of the conviction.

Authorities did not disclose how much beer was stolen, or why it was in the fire department. A warrant put the value of the beer at less than $1,000.

The two departments share a building, and the door separating the offices usually was unlocked, officials said.

The only person by the name of Brian Hill in the Wilson area has an unlisted phone number, so he could not be reached for comment.