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5 tips to ensure nobody robs you of your rig

Stories about patients stealing ambulances are common, so here’s how you can protect your vehicle

Unfortunately, stories about patients stealing ambulances are all too common.

With the potential for catastrophic injury or death as well as a financial loss of more than $100,000, preventing ambulance theft should be a high priority for EMS agencies.

Here are five tips to help ensure nobody robs you of your rig.

  1. Lock the doors: Always lock the doors to the driver compartment, patient compartment, and equipment compartments.
  2. Lock the ignition: 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 able to be put in gear without a key.
  3. Stay behind: 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. Stay inside: 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. Stay in sight: Park in a location where the ambulance is easily visible from the scene and bystanders.

Have you ever had an ambulance or contents stolen? Does your department have a policy for preventing ambulance, apparatus or vehicle theft?

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Email your product suggestions and on other ways to prevent ambulance theft to

This article, originally published in April 13 2010, 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.