Thieves loot ambulances while paramedics help patients

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Thieves have stolen £4,000 worth of life-saving equipment and supplies from ambulances - including their flashing blue lights.

Since 2012, heartless thugs have taken items including morphine, oxygen cylinders and lights from the top of the East of England Ambulance Service’s vehicles.

A freedom of information request revealed one thief also took Wellington boots worth £10 and sat-navs are frequently stolen.

The trust described thefts from ambulances as “astounding” and has increased security at its sites.

Some of the items were stolen from paramedics’ vehicles parked outside their own homes while a number of thefts occurred while they were parked outside hospitals.

Some equipment was even stolen from a vehicle while paramedics were attending to a patient in their home.

Thieves made off with Entonox cylinders - an anaesthesia gas also known as laughing gas - oxygen bags and medics’ kit bags, one of which included the Wellington boots.

Kerry White, a duty locality officer with the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), said staff attending emergencies did not always have time to secure their vehicles, as their priority was attending to what could be a life-threatening situation.

She said: “You’re going to have to trust the public not to venture into the back of an ambulance.

“You’ve got to be pretty heartless to steal life-saving equipment.”

Rob Ashford, a trust locality director, said: “It is astounding how anyone can steal from an ambulance service, especially whilst crews are treating ill patients.

“This equipment is vital to us, but it also could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

“We work closely with the police to thoroughly investigate the thefts, and have had to increase security at our sites to try and stop this from happening.”