CCTV Catches Ambulance Thief
In the UK, CCTV security surveillance is continuing to prove its worth. We have already published several cases about the police utilizing the footage being recorded by CCTV security surveillance equipment to catch criminals. Now, in this latest story, police and investigators are using footage CCTV footage to try to catch a couple of joy riders who stole an ambulance from a hospital parking lot and took it for a fun ride.
North East Ambulance Service chiefs have continued to release details about the incident in an effort to bring these hooligans to justice. The theft happened just after emergency staff had brought an assault victim into the hospital from their home in Wynyard Road, Hartlepool.
The police and other investigators are determinedly hunting down these joy riders in order to properly prosecute them and get the stolen ambulance returned to the hospital. The theft happened just after the ambulance and its crew had returned to the hospital with a female assault victim for further treatment.
Approximately 20 minutes after the theft, police were able to find the stolen ambulance. Upon initial inspection, there appeared to be no damage done to it and nothing was stolen. The lights were left on flashing, but nothing other than that was out of the ordinary.
However, the ambulance was not allowed to go immediately back into usage as police want to conduct further inspection and testing on it to find more evidence. The investigation continues on.
Mark Cotton, North East Ambulance Service’s assistant director of communications and engagement, hit out at the actions which he said could have put people’s lives at risk.
He said: “It was very lucky that the patient did not need to go into hospital. This could have put the patient’s life at risk had we needed to take the patient to hospital. We don’t know how many other emergency calls we could have got to faster had that ambulance been available. This left Hartlepool without an ambulance for the rest of the night and over the weekend, when it was incredibly busy for us. This was probably a prank, but people don’t realize how serious these pranks can turn. It may have had serious implications. We had to take the ambulance off the road while we checked CCTV footage in the vehicle itself so we can identify people who try to steal it.”
He said ambulances are usually left locked but with the engine running in order to maintain the power supply to equipment.
Mr. Cotton said more than half of NEAS ambulances now have CCTV on board, having started to install the system 18 months ago.
The CCTV installation follows a previous theft of an ambulance from the ambulance station in Billingham in March, last year.
He added: “It was originally installed in order to identify patients who try to assault our crews but we have used it to apprehend people for stealing ambulances.”
CCTV is being rolled out to the rest of the North East Ambulance Service fleet.
“It is expensive for us to do, but even more expensive for us not to,” said Mr. Cotton.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Inquiries are ongoing into the theft of the ambulance from Wynyard Road.”