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Defibrillators stolen on Romney Marsh in Lydd and New Romney

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

Residents on Romney Marsh are being urged to remain vigilant after two pieces of life-saving equipment were stolen.

Police received a report of a defibrillator being taken from Coronation Square in Lydd, between January 26 and 30.

It comes seven months after the same device was stolen from the disused red telephone box where it is stored.

The box where the defibrillator is kept. Credit: Ken Hopkins
The box where the defibrillator is kept. Credit: Ken Hopkins

A defibrillator based in Church road in New Romney was also reported stolen on January11, but was subsequently returned at a later date.

Officers are not currently treating the two reports as linked.

The devices help provide immediate first aid to heart attack victims while waiting for an ambulance from a 999 call.

Inspector Julien Lawton of Shepway Community Safety Unit said: "Stealing a defibrillator, even if it’s returned after a short time, can be the difference for someone surviving a heart attack or dying.

"This equipment costs thousands of pounds to replace, and lives are being put at risk by these thefts.

"They are meant to be in public places so they are accessible in medical emergency."

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to come forward by calling 01843 222289 quoting 30-0694 for the Lydd report or 46/23211/19 for the New Romney report.

In July last year, mindless criminals reportedly managed to get away with Lydd's public defibrillator.

The device, which is said to have been active, was fortunately found the same day it was reported missing by a dog walker near Lydd Bridge.

There is a second defibrillator in the town as well as one in Greatstone.

The defibrillator went missing previously in July 2018. Credit: Ken Hopkins
The defibrillator went missing previously in July 2018. Credit: Ken Hopkins

At the time, Mayor Bob Jones said three people had been saved by defibrillators in Lydd in the first half of 2018 alone.

Figures obtained last year revealed police had seen a sharp increase in criminals targeting the equipment. Fourteen were stolen in the county in 2017 compared to just three in 2015.

Three defibrillators were stolen in Medway in 2017, with three in Maidstone, two in Ashford and Dover and one each in Canterbury, Swale, Thanet and Tonbridge and Malling.

They can cost up to £3,000 each and are normally paid for by charities or community fundraising groups.

It is believed in some cases thieves pinch the units to strip them down and sell them for spares.

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