'It's reckless and inexcusable' - Police slam defibrillator thieves
A number of life-saving defibrillators have been stolen in the region - with fears the vital devices could be being sold abroad by organised crime gangs.
Recent thefts in Clacton and Newmarket have highlighted the issue, with similar incidents also taking place in Ipswich, Dovercourt and Heybridge over the past year.
Thieves broke into FC Clacton overnight on Saturday, August 10 and took the piece of life-saving equipment, worth £1,000, from the Essex club's Austin Arena.
The community rallied around the club following the incident, with a replacement defibrillator donated by Cardiac Science and damage to the clubhouse repaired free of charge by Clacton company Superior Exteriors.
In a statement, the club said its "faith in humanity had been restored".
"Our initial shock and disgust at this act was soon forgotten as we were overwhelmed by kind offers of support and funding by our amazing supporters, the wider public, businesses and other clubs in the non-league community."
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A defibrillator worth £1,000 was also stolen from Newmarket's Memorial Hall, in the High Street, between 4.30pm on Monday, July 29 and 8.50am on Tuesday, July 30.
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Rachel Hood, mayor of Newmarket and county and district councillor, said the community were upset by the theft.
"It's very disappointing. You wouldn't think anyone would steal a defibrillator and it's a feeling of 'how could someone do this?' The community are upset and dismayed.
"There was a similar incident in Clacton and we have heard that they are being sold, possibly out of the country, although I don't know that to be fact.
"On the positive side, someone has come forward and volunteered to replace it."
Mrs Hood added that many members of staff at Newmarket Town Council had been trained in using the vital piece of equipment.
In July last year, a defibrillator was stolen from Seven Asset in St Peter's Street, Ipswich.
Chief Inspector Andy Pursehouse, from the Newmarket Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "Stealing, damaging or interfering with defibrillators without good cause is absolutely reckless and inexcusable.
"It clearly puts people's lives at risk in our communities and I would appeal to anybody with any information regarding this incident to come forward to police."