Va. police seek culprit in rash of med thefts from ambulances
With five break-ins this week, police are investigating and crews are doing frequent checks of medicine boxes after finding they had been tampered with
By Margaret Matray
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After five break-ins this week, police are searching for whoever stole medications, including some narcotics, from ambulances at two rescue stations.
The most recent theft happened Thursday afternoon at the General Booth station, marking the fourth break-in there.
The first theft was discovered Monday night, when crew members at the General Booth station were checking equipment at the beginning of their shift. They noticed that a box with medications on one of the ambulances had been tampered with, said EMS spokesman Ed Brazle. At least one narcotic was missing, he said.
Crews conducted an immediate inventory of all city fire trucks and ambulances, and discovered two more break-ins: one on another General Booth ambulance and one at the Courthouse station on Princess Anne Road, Brazle said.
Tuesday morning, a day-shift crew found that one of the restocked ambulances at the General Booth station had been broken into again.
EMS crews are now conducting more frequent equipment checks during shifts, Brazle said.
The medication boxes, used in emergency vehicles throughout the region, are stored in locked cabinets on the trucks. The rescue stations also are locked, Brazle said.
Anyone can open the boxes, but only a pharmacist can close them.
Each one contains about two dozen different medications, including several that are considered controlled substances, Brazle said.
Morphine was among the drugs stolen.
Officials are looking into whether a current or former emergency responder may have been involved, Brazle said.
He said he has seen this kind of theft only once before, when a volunteer EMT rescue worker in 2008 was charged with grand larceny and accused of stealing drugs from two fire stations. Online court records show he pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Brazle said it was fortunate that crews made the discoveries early and not in the midst of an emergency call.
Had a person needed a drug that was missing, "that impacts our ability to help someone," he said.
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