Thieves stole equipment from an ambulance while paramedics were attending to a patient in Auckland.
An ambulance crew was helping a man - who was struggling to breathe - in Papatoetoe about 1am last Thursday, when the theft occurred, St John Ambulance district operations manager Steve Walker said.
Among the items stolen was a portable radio and a Navman GPS unit along with some of the crew's personal items.
The equipment will cost about $1000 to replace and in the meantime staff will have to do without the portable radio - a vital line of communication.
In the aftermath ambulance officers tried to search for the offenders, however, thick fog hindered their efforts.
It was the second time ambulance officer Becky Corcoran had her vehicle targeted.
"It is frustrating because we are out there trying to help the community and this is the thanks we get. We are an emergency service that runs on minimal funding, we are not a government organisation," she said.
"It just makes our job harder to treat people who are sick."
The man they were attending was also affected by the theft.
"Our patient felt it was his responsibility because it happened while we were there to treat him," Walker said.
He called for the thieves to return the items and to "show some respect" in the future.
Senior Sergeant Julia Lynch said Counties Manukau police were investigating the theft.
Anyone with any knowledge of the stolen equipment can contact the front desk at the Otahuhu, Papatoetoe and Mangere police stations or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111.
- © Fairfax NZ News