Equipment worth around £12,500 has been stolen from ambulances in the past year, while paramedics tended to sick or injured patients.

North West Ambulance Service said there were 11 thefts, including sat- navs, medical bags and laptops, between May last year and May this year, costing about £12,500 to replace.

Bosses at NWAS said the “mindless” crime is on the increase year-on-year, despite best efforts to secure vehicles.

Items stolen from Lancashire include a laptop worth £2,500, from Altham on November 13, 2011. Two more laptops worth £5,000 were taken from another ambulance in Altham on January 20, 2012.

Police said that nobody has been caught for either of the thefts.

Derek Cartwright, director of paramedic emergency service for NWAS, said: “Despite our best efforts to secure our vehicles, mindless thieves still feel it is acceptable to steal our equipment regardless of the consequences.

“The main target is satellite navigation systems. The damage caused and time taken to get equipment replaced takes a vehicle off the road and as a result, the vehicle is then not responding to emergency incidents. The problem is increasing year on year and when we can, we fully support the prosecution of anyone who is caught stealing or attempting to steal our equipment.”