Belfast Telegraph

Carnlough outrage at defibrillator theft

By David Young

Heartless thieves have stolen a defibrillator from outside a rural community shop.

Spar Carnlough manager Joanne McLarnon said the local community had raised £1,500 through cake sales, sponsored walks and more to fund the purchase of the defibrillator, which was stolen in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Joanne said: "It is very disheartening to think someone just decided to steal this potentially life-saving piece of medical equipment off the wall. It was installed in May and cost around £1,500.

"The community paid for it through various fundraising activities.

"It's such a valuable piece of life-saving equipment and an absolute disgrace that it has been stolen."

The defibrillator can be a vital tool to save the life of someone suffering a cardiac arrest, delivering an electric shock that can help revive them.

While it is invaluable in emergency situations, it is useless to anyone else and has no resale value.

Customers on the Spar's Facebook page reacted with fury to news of the theft of the equipment. Healthcare assistant Kellie White said: "This is an absolute disgrace, stealing a medical piece of equipment which can potentially save an individual's life.

"I truly hope no one needs this, as whoever has stole this AED machine has cut their chances of survival, as this medical device can and has saved many people.

"Please do the right thing, own up and return it.

"Take it upon yourself to think outside the box to who may need this - a loved one, a friend - how would you feel if you needed this and it was stolen - the chance of survival is everything."

Carnlough native Lisa McAuley said; "This is bloody disgraceful. How low and sick can some people go. Get it returned ASAP"

The PSNI have appealed for anyone who has any information about the theft to come forward.

Sergeant Michelle O'Neill said: "This is a vital piece of equipment which could mean the difference between life and death for someone.

"I would appeal to anyone who knows of the whereabouts of this defibrillator to contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting the reference 339 21/10/16.

"Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

There has been a spate of defibrillator thefts across Northern Ireland in recent months.

In April, one was stolen from a petrol station in Newtownards, and in July, another was stolen from a shop on Belfast's Andersonstown Road.

In August, two defibrillators were removed and destroyed from convenience stores in Londonderry.

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