Stolen Littlehampton defibrillator returned after public backlash

A defibrillator stolen from Littlehampton high street has been returned after a public backlash.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:10 pm

The life-saving equipment was taken from outside Pound Xtra in High Street last Wednesday night, sparking a police investigation and social media condemnation.

It was installed several years ago after a fundraising drive from the Littlehampton Traders Partnership (LTP), in response to a tragic death in the town centre.

The group’s co-chairman, Simon Vickers, said the theft was ‘beyond words’ and asked why someone would endanger lives in a time already filled with suffering.

A defibrillator was stolen from outside Pound Xtra in Littlehampton last week, but was returned. LTP's vice-chairman, Paul Wakeman. Pic Steve Robards SR2103012 SUS-210103-145535001

Response to the Gazette’s story on Facebook was similarly despairing, with dozens of comments – some not suitable for a family newspaper – sharing their views on the theft.

Commenting on Friday’s post, Debbie Curd said it was ‘selfish pure and simple’, Patricia Marsh branded it ‘absolutely disgusting’ and Lynn Woodroffe questioned the ‘utter stupidity’ of the act.

But on Sunday night the perpetrator’s conscience must have been pricked, or a quick sale was hard to come by, as the defibrillator was returned to the top of its High Street box.

The LTP’s vice-chairman, Paul Wakeman, said it was good to have it back but it would still be out of action for several days.

“We don’t know where it’s been or what’s been done to it,” he said.

“I think maybe the fact that it was all over Facebook made it too hot to handle. I really don’t get why someone would steal a defibrillator in the first place, but anything for a quick buck I suppose.”

The equipment has now been sent away for checks, meaning it is still unavailable for use.

Public access defibrillators are often installed in town centres and areas where the instant response before emergency services arrive can make a huge difference.

They can be opened with a code to treat people suffering a cardiac arrest.