Man arrested after medical supplies stolen from ambulance outside Sunderland hospital

A man was spotted entering an ambulance parked outside Sunderland Royal Hospital, while staff were taking a patient inside. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees/Northumbria Police

A man has been arrested after medical supplies were stolen from an ambulance outside a hospital in a 'truly shocking' incident.

It happened at around 5.30am on 13 April while ambulance staff were taking a patient inside Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Security staff reported someone acting suspiciously in the area, before a man was spotted going into a parked ambulance and attempting to get away with two bags of crucial medical equipment.

However, hospital staff and security tracked his movements and the suspect was caught as patrolling police officers arrived at the scene.

A 44-year-old man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of theft from a motor vehicle and remains in police custody.

Sunderland Royal Hospital Credit: PA

Chief Inspector Nicola Wearing, from Northumbria Police, praised the swift response of everyone involved.

She said: "It almost beggars belief that somebody would look to steal crucial medical equipment that is there to ultimately help save people’s lives.

"We all know of the outstanding contribution that has been and continues to be made by everyone associated with the NHS, so it is incredibly disappointing for someone to show a total disregard for their selfless sacrifice in this way.

"I am delighted that we were able to retrieve the supplies and safely return them to the hospital, and we will now be interviewing a suspect who remains in custody in connection with this incident.

"This positive outcome was only possible because of some outstanding teamwork between hospital staff, security and our response officers who were on hand within minutes and took decisive action.

"I would like to thank everyone involved - and hope our robust response sends out a strong message to would-be thieves across our region.

"You will be identified, you will be pursued, and you will be brought into custody."

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) Strategic Commander Stuart Holliday added: "The thought of anyone breaking into an emergency ambulance whilst a crew is handing over a patient is truly shocking.

"Thefts from a vehicle such as this can result in an ambulance being taken off the road until it is restocked, leaving the vehicle and crew unavailable for someone else in need in the local area, not to mention the cost involved to our service in replacing equipment. 

"Thankfully, the equipment was retrieved quickly in this case, and therefore did not impact on the care our crew were able to provide."We hope the speedy response will serve as a reminder that such crimes will be acted upon quickly and those responsible will be apprehended and brought to justice."