Lincolnshire thieves stole potentially lifesaving equipment, a range of electronics, and fuel from ambulances in the past three years.
Information obtained by The Lincolnite in a Freedom of Information request has shown some of the more bizarre and damaging thefts committed in the county, described by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) as “mindless acts of criminality.”
These include 1,000 litres of diesel, later recovered contaminated from a site in Grimsby, and 800 litres of heating oil from Holbeach.
More worryingly, thieves stole and used four Entonox cylinders, which are a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen used in emergency medical situations by paramedics, from an ambulance in Market Rasen.
A similar theft in Lincoln saw a LIVES full responder kit taken, which was subsequently recovered during a police investigation.
Medication, such as a drugs bag valued at almost £100 and 85 codeine tablets have also been stolen from ambulances.
Overall, 21 thefts of EMAS equipment were recorded in the county from December 2012 to the present day, with the most recent theft occurring in June 2015, when a handbag with a trust ID card was stolen from a house in Lincoln.
The total cost to the trust is estimated to be well in the hundreds of pounds, with the most costly thefts being electronic equipment such as satellite navigation systems, mobile phones and pagers.
EMAS’ Crime and Security Management Team has delivered the highest number of successful sanctions nationally out of all NHS Trusts for such offences.
Sean Keown, Local Security Management Specialist for East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “We take such acts very seriously. Stealing lifesaving equipment and drugs from our ambulances puts lives at risk.
“When our vehicles aren’t fully stocked they often have to be taken off the road to restock and replace which means they aren’t available to respond to 999 calls.
“We have started investing in vehicle CCTV technology in the hope of discouraging such mindless acts of criminality.
“We investigate all cases and where offenders can be identified, we work in partnership with police to take the strongest action possible.”
A similar Freedom of Information request was sent to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, who revealed that four thermal imaging cameras were stolen last year, with the cost of the items withheld.
A spokesperson on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council said that disclosing the price of the equipment would prejudice the supplier’s ability to bid successfully for contracts against its competitors.