EQUIPMENT worth nearly £30,000 has been stolen from South Central ambulances during the last three years.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that £29,170 worth of equipment was stolen from South Central Ambulance Services vehicles since 2010.

Paul Jefferies, north Hampshire area manager, said the majority of thefts took place when the ambulances were responding to an emergency, and the doors had been left open.

He added: “Any theft from an ambulance regardless of how big or small is wholly inappropriate.”

Equipment stolen during the last three years has included fuel, life saving equipment, response bags, blue lights from the vehicles and oxygen.

Mr Jefferies said: “It directly impacts the public and any theft is going to impact public safety.”

He added that thefts of life-saving equipment could also put a patient’s safety at risk.

In August last year, a defibrillator was stolen from one of South Central Ambulance’s vehicles.

Mr Jefferies said: “If that vehicle had been sent to a cardiac arrest, that equipment wouldn’t have been there to save a person’s life.”

He said staff are encouraged to secure vehicles when unattended, but added: “There are occasions where it’s not practical. You might be moving a stretcher out and need to leave the rear door open.”

He pointed out: “An emergency vehicle should be safe to park near an incident without the risk of a theft taking place.”