Trending Topics

5 ways to protect your ambulance from theft

Prevent your ambulance from being stolen and potentially causing harm to the thief or others


With the potential for catastrophic injury or death, as well as financial loss, locking the ambulance is an absolute duty for EMS providers.

Articles about ambulance theft pop up frequently enough on to convince me that theft is an actual problem that could happen anytime and anywhere.

Some articles include an ambulance stolen from a Texas emergency department, a Calif. woman that held paramedics at knifepoint before crashing the stolen ambulance into a semi-truck, and a man told by “Lord Jesus Christ” to steal the ambulance.

With the potential for catastrophic injury or death as well as a financial loss of more than $200,000, it seems like preventing ambulance theft should be a high priority for EMS agencies.

Ambulance security tips

Consider these tips for your SOG on ambulance security:

1. Lock it up!

Always lock the doors to the driver compartment, patient compartment and equipment compartments. Read why locking the ambulance is an absolute duty for EMS providers.

2. Install other theft prevention controls

If you are worried about not being able to restart the engine, utilize an ignition interlock system that allows the motor to idle, but not be put in gear without a key.

3. Guard the vehicles

If there are multiple units responding – like an ambulance and a first response fire truck – assign one person to stay with and monitor the vehicles.

4. Minimize the time an ambulance is unattended

Minimize time out of and away from the vehicle, whether you are at an incident, at the grocery store or parked at the hospital.

5. High-visibility location

Park in a location where the ambulance is easily visible from the scene and to bystanders.

What are your tips to prevent ambulance theft?

Have you ever had an ambulance or contents stolen? Does your department have an SOG for preventing vehicle theft? How does your organization prevent ambulance theft or theft of contents from the ambulance? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

This article was originally posted Apr. 13, 2010. It has been updated.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.