AN IRRATIONAL MAN WHO HAD just arrived at the emergency room of a Houston, Texas, hospital quickly became irritated because the hospital staff seemed to be ignoring him and his "hurting head." So he dashed back outside, hopped into the cab of a Houston Fire Department ambulance that had just brought a patient in and was still running, and drove off at speed with the lights and siren on at full tilt.
Another ambulance crew that witnessed the getaway started following the miscreant along with some police cars for a short distance until the thief crashed heavily into a freeway overpass pillar, causing extensive damage to the ambulance. The unidentified thief was not injured however.
The incident took place at 6:30 pm Central Monday evening and is still being investigated. KHOU-TV had a video crew nearby and was able to file this timely report:
EARLIER THIS MONTH we told you about an ambulance that had been stolen right off the FD property in Merrick, Long Island. The unit was parked just outside the firehouse in Merrick with the keys in the ignition. It was found a short time later undamaged and intact.
This past Friday the Nassau County Police arrested a suspect, Salvatore Brecciano of North Merrick and charged him with the theft which apparently was a joyride stunt.
What tripped him up was his fogginess at the time of the theft when he set down a 12-pack of beer to get into the ambulance and then promptly forgot it and drove off leaving it behind.
The police soon traced the 12-pack to a local 7-Eleven store where they found out that Salvatore had paid for it with his debit card. It didn't take much after that to track him down to his home where they found the ambulance keys in his car.
The ambulance crew had stopped at a convenience store around 11:45 pm Sunday to take a short break. While one of the medics went inside to make a purchase, the other one stayed outside near the ambulance. Following department policy, they left the motor running while they were there and a teenage boy immediately jumped into the cab and drove away.
Somehow, the teenager managed to jump inside the ambulance and speed away before the medic in the parking lot could stop him. He drove onto Interstate 44, but soon lost control and hit a light pole. The ambulance rolled over, but no other vehicles were hit.
Police were able to track the stolen ambulance using the vehicle's GPS tracking device.
The traffic light and pole were knocked over and the ambulance was heavily damaged. The youth was not immediately identified but was described by police as behaving as if high on drugs. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and then transferred to the juvenile facility.
IN LORAIN, OHIO, A LIFE CARE Ambulance was on the scene of a medical emergency with its lights, etc., operating while the medics were inside a house when someone climbed into the unit and drove it away.
The call Friday morning at 1:15 am was for a woman probably in labor and while the crew was tending to her they heard the backup alarm sounding on their unit as it backed out of the driveway and drove off.
Dispatcher was able to track the ambulance with
its onboard GPS and direct the police to the location.
"We were able to get the woman to the hospital," de la Porte said. "We called in another ambulance."
The stolen ambulance was located a little more than three blocks away on West 22nd Street between Lexington Avenue and Reid Avenue, de la Porte said.
"It was just sitting in the middle of the street still running," he said. "There was no chance of it getting away. These vehicles are monitored every second through LifeCare dispatch." De la Porte said nothing was taken from the vehicle during the short absence.
"There was nothing missing from the ambulance," he said. "Besides, if they wanted drugs or something, these are not the kind that they would want. These would probably kill them."
The police have some images from the onboard camera and are hoping to make an ID from them.
A TEMPE, ARIZONA, MAN WHO was released from jail Sunday morning took a mere handful of steps before he was on the path right back to the pokey.
Cesar Garcia, 33, had just been set loose at the Chandler police station where he had been held after being arrested for possessing an open beer in a store. Once out of the station house he spotted a Chandler FD ambulance parked out front while on a separate incident, and decided that a ride home would be better than walking, so he hopped in and drove off.
He didn't go on a joyride, but just drove it home like it was the family car. Thanks to the GPS installed in the ambulance the police were able to cruise right up and make the collar.
Now Garcia is facing felony charges of motor vehicle theft, felony flight, aggravated DUI and aggravated assault on police officers.
A THIEF FOUND AN UNATTENDED AMR ambulance in a Billings, Montana, restuarant parking lot Saturday night and seized the moment …. and the ambulance.
Police aren't sure yet what events led up to the taking of the unit, but they say around 9:45 pm Cody Lee Paine, of no fixed address, climbed into the cab and drove away.
The Billings Gazette continues:
A high-speed chase that started Saturday night with a stolen ambulance in Billings ended about 75 miles away in Big Horn County with a man in custody and only slightly injured after the vehicle rolled on I-90 at 10:45 p.m., according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
During (the one-hour pursuit), Paine drove erratically at speeds between 40 and 100 mph and refused to stop for officers, trooper Toman Baukema said.
Paine, 29, was driving east in the westbound lane of I-90 near mile marker 525, about 25 miles southeast of Hardin, when he rolled the ambulance to the outside of the interstate with law enforcement officers close behind, Baukema said.
A Bureau of Indian Affairs officer had deployed a spike strip on the interstate head of Paine, but Baukema said it was unclear Saturday night if the suspect crashed because he hit the spikes or because he swerved to miss them.
Billings Gazette / Gregg
Paine, who had responsibly buckled his seat belt, was only slightly injured and taken into custody without any resistance.
A BEAUFORT COUNTY (So. Carolina) EMS ambulance was stolen Tuesday evening from the Beaufort Memorial Hospital emergency room entrance and taken for a brief joyride before the thief was apprehended.
Ambulance entrance at Beaufort Memorial Hospital (WSAV-TV)
Clifton McNeill, 34, had been brought to the ER by ambulance earlier and was still being treated when he decided it was time for him to leave. The Beaufort Gazette tells us what happened next:
At about 5:10 p.m., he removed his I.V., left a treatment room and forced open the emergency room exit, according to a police news release. Wearing only sweat pants, he approached the ambulance and asked a crew member in the back of the vehicle to give him a ride home. When the crew member came out of the ambulance to talk to him, McNeill got in and drove away.
Beaufort County public information officer Joy Nelson said no one else was in the ambulance during McNeill's ride, but only because a female crew member also working in the back made it out before McNeill took off. Nelson said the crew member exited when her partner realized what McNeill was about to do and alerted her, Nelson said.
McNeill drove into oncoming traffic for about a mile, to the intersection of Hermitage and Ribaut roads, before being blocked and stopped by Beaufort police, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office deputies and additional EMS personnel, the release said.
McNeill was removed from the ambulance after struggling with officers and Beaufort County EMS workers. Police subdued him with a stun gun.
Nobody was injured during the escapade and the ambulance had no damage done to it. Beaufort County EMS has anti-theft devices on their newer units, but this was one of the three older ambulances that was scheduled to be refitted soon.
Beaufort County is no stranger to emergency vehicle thieves. It was just 16 months ago when a deranged man jumped into an idling fire engine at a medical scene and drove off at high speed. After crashing into six cars, he struck and killed a pedestrian before crashing the truck into a stand of trees.
Review that incident in the Firegeezer STORY HERE.
TWO DeKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA, Fire-Rescue medics were parked in the loading bay at the Emory University Hospital in Decatur Saturday afternoon and were in the back of the unit restocking and completing paperwork following a call.
While they were occupied with their work, a hospital patient dressed in a typical hospital gown and wearing latex gloves, hopped in the cab, locked the doors and took off racing down the street. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues the story:
Battalion Chief Christopher Morrison Jr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the suspect "knew they were in the unit because he looked through the little window in the back and told them, ‘be quiet and hold on.’"
Morrison said that even though the paramedics, a male and a female firefighter, were caught by surprise and "jostled around," one of them was able to radio the ambulance’s location throughout the incident.
"One of our EMTs used one of our tactical channels, and as they were crossing major streets, he was actually giving a description of the location, so 911 dispatch as well as police officers and firefighters, we could actually hear the locations they were at so in our efforts to find them, it gave us a play-by-play," Morrison said.
The crazed patient drove for several miles at a high rate of speed until he ran off the road, took down a utility pole, smashed through the front porch of a plumbing co. office, and crashed into the front of a chiropractic clinic. The thief then jumped out of the cab, seemingly uninjured, told a bystander that there were two injured people in the ambulance and the ran away.
The ambulance seen behind the bush in the center, left a
trail of destruction through the neighborhood. (WSB-TV / Cronan)
The firefighters were relatively uninjured but taken to the hospital for evaluation anyway. FD officials say that the ambulance appears to be a total loss and the damage to the building, which was closed at the time, is "extensive."
WXIA-TV posted this cellphone video taken by a passerby:
The culprit evaded capture initially, but a few hours later the police nabbed him. WXIA-TV reports that Frank Ponquinette, 36, ditched his hospital duds after stealing some clothes out of an apartment building laundry room. He then remained free until later that evening when the police caught up with him outside a shopping center.
Read the full story in the Journal-ConstitutionHERE and at WXIA-TV HERE.
DeKalb County Fire and Rescue WEBSITE.
A MEMORIAL HOSPITAL EMS ambulance in Chattanooga, Tennessee, had just off-loaded a patient at Erlanger hospital and the driver moved the unit away from the loading zone to keep it cleared. He then got into the back of the ambulance and started cleaning up and restocking from the last call.
(The medic) yelled for the man to stop, but he just accelerated faster. The victim was yelling at the ambulance-jacker and attempting to call out on his radio reporting the theft.
Although the victim was yelling for the suspect to stop, he refused at which time the victim reached through the window and pulled on the suspect to the point he stopped the ambulance.
The man jumped from the ambulance and ran towards the Whitehall Building. A short time later he was located in a red Ford van parked in the Whitehall garage.
WRCB / Broome
John Edward Shanks, 29, was taken into custody by deputies with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and charged with auto theft over $100,000, kidnapping, reckless endangerment and burglary of an auto.
The police quickly learned that Shanks also had outstanding warrants from two other jurisdictions.
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, POLICE located a stolen ambulance about ten blocks away from the hospital where it was taken while the crew was inside delivering a patient they had brought from Elmore County.
The Haynes Ambulance unit was one of four that were parked in the ambulance bay of the UAB Hospital at 8 pm when somebody, apparently picking at random, hopped in a drove off.
This photo of the stolen unit was posted by Haynes on their Facebook page
The ambulance was found Sunday afternoon about 20 hours after it had been taken. It isn't yet known if any equipment or supplies have been taken. Haynes officials are on their way to Birmingham this morning to inventory and check out the unit.
AN ANDERSON, INDIANA, MAN was arrested this morning (Friday) after he stole an ambulance and crashed into five parked cars.
Around 4 am an Anderson Fire Department medic unit was treating a patient in an apartment building when Joseph Sandlin, 27, got into the idling ambulance and drove off. His journey was shortened just outside the apartment complex when he crashed heavily into five parked cars. All six vehicles were extensively damaged.
Police officers found Sandlin sitting in the driver's seat. As he was being arrested, he told police he took hydrocodone and several other pills, including bath salts. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
The release said when officers asked him why he stole the ambulance, he said "he took it because he wanted to find a police car and wreck into it so that we would shoot him."
Sandlin was arrested and charged with theft of a motor vehicle, a Class C felony; operating while intoxicated/drugs, a Class A misdemeanor; leaving the scene of a property damage accident, a Class B misdemeanor; and operator never licensed, a Class C misdemeanor. He was also wanted on a warrant out of Anderson City Court for domestic battery.
A MEDSTAR AMBULANCE was stolen Monday morning from a St.Louis, Missouri, hospital while the crew was transferring a critically ill person in the emergency room.
MedStar website photo
The patient had been picked up in East St. Louis, Illinois, and taken to the Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis where the theft occurred around 3 am.
The ambulance was recoverd about three hours later back in East St. Louis where a patrol car found it abandoned. There was no apparent damage to the unit and an initial look-through did not disclose anything missing. A complete inventory is being taken this morning.
All of MedStar's ambulances have a lock-out feature that permits the driver to lock an idling unit and take the keys with them, but he failed to do so in this instance. Further compounding the problem is that it was an older reserve unit that does not have the GPS signal device that their front-line ambulances have.
KSDK-TV has the video report on the incident from the MedStar headquarters:
East St. Louis police detectives say that they have a couple of suspects, but have not yet made an arrest.
LAST SATURDAY, MARCH 2, Firegeezer reported on a Western Berks Ambulance stolen the night before in Reading, Pennsylvania. The ambulance crew had left the engine running on their unit while they were inside a high-rise apartment tending to a patient on the 15th floor. When they returned with their patient, the ambulance was missing and another unit had to be called.
Shortly after, the police found the ambulance abandoned not far from the site of the crime. At the time, they said that they had a good idea of who stole it.
Yesterday (Friday) the police arrested David Collado, 39, and charged him with stealing the ambulance.
WFMZ-TV tells us today:
Officers were (called shortly after the theft) to the 700 block of South 10th Street for a report of a stolen ambulance left abandoned with its lights on and engine running, police said.
Witnesses on the scene told officers they saw the driver of the stolen ambulance enter a home in the 600 block of South 10th Street, according to court documents. Officers went inside and found Collado, but they didn't have enough evidence at the time to arrest him.
During a subsequent interview with investigators, Collado said he was walking home from a barber shop when he felt an asthma attack coming on and stumbled his way toward the ambulance, according to court documents. Collado then admitted to getting inside the ambulance and driving it to his house, where he was able to treat himself for his medical condition.
Collado has been charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, receiving stolen property, unauthorized use of an automobile, and obstructing emergency services. He is currently being held in the Berks County Jail on $5,000 bail.
A WESTERN BERKS AMBULANCE was stolen Friday night in Reading, Pennslyvania. The crew had left the unit with the engine running while they were inside a high-rise apartment building tending to a patient.
At 2:30 p.m., Gary Police Department medics responded to an emergency call at 555 Polk Street and left their ambulance in the parking lot with the motor running while treating the patient. When the medics returned outside, they discovered the ambulance gone.
Soon after, they learned the ambulance was being driven by 59-year-old Ricky Warren, of Gary. He struck a vehicle on 11th Grant, then proceeded south on Grant Street before officers were able to curb the vehicle on Ridge Road, police said.
Warren then got his own ride to the hospital to be treated for "injuries" before taking another trip to the pokey.
* * * * *
IN ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, A 19-yr.-old man is in custody after stealing an ambulance from the loading bay at the University of Michigan Hospital.
Police say another ambulance driver noticed the man driving away from the hospital in the stolen ambulance on Friday night at around 11:30 pm. That driver radioed police when he noticed the suspect was not in uniform.
Police were able to track the stolen ambulance. A Washtenaw County Sheriff's Deputy pulled it over at Huron River Drive and Campus Drive. That's near the entrance to Washtenaw Community College.
The man was taken into custody and turned over to University of Michigan Police. Officers say he was waiting to be seen in the hospital's emergency room when he took the ambulance.
The name of the ambulance company was not reported.
A 19-YR.-OLD VAGRANT STOLE an ambulance in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Tuesday night and putted around the Pittsburgh-area county for several hours until a police officer spotted him standing next to the unit at a convenience store, taking a break. It is believed, but not yet proven, that Jonathon David Miracle was also involved in two collisions during his spree.
EAPS Website photo
The Eastern Area PreHospital Services EMS unit was parked at the ambulance station in Swissvale when it was discovered to be missing at 9 pm. A call went out immediately to the local police departments and then it was found around 2 am. KDKA-TV reports:
Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, Rostraver Police spotted the ambulance along State Route 51 and saw 19-year-old Jonathan Miracle, who is homeless, standing next to the vehicle. Police say they spotted Miracle next to the vehicle’s open door and was not wearing typical Emergency Medical Services clothing.
Miracle was charged with a felony count of receiving stolen property.
After being arrested, Miracle admitted to taking the ambulance, said Rostraver Police Chief Greg Reseter. Miracle told investigators he was trying to get back to the Chicago area, where he has family.
The ambulance was fully stocked with medications and supplies, including narcotics, but none of it appeared to have been disturbed, Reseter said.
State police also were investigating an accident that may have involved Miracle and the ambulance elsewhere in Westmoreland County. Rostraver police charged Miracle with receiving stolen property, and Swissvale police will charge him with stealing the ambulance. State police may file additional charges related to the accident, Reseter said.
A BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO, MAN was arrested this morning (Sunday) shortly after he stole an ambulance in Longmont because he was cold (and drunk…. ed.). An AMR ambulance and a Longmont fire unit responded around 3 am for an 86-yr.-old woman who had fallen in her residence. While the crews were inside tending to their patient, the ambulance crew heard the backup alarm sounding on their unit and ran outside where they could see the ambulance tooling down the road.
They immediately notified the police and a patrol located the ambulance around 3:20 am just six blocks away and being driven by Robert Elmar Taylor, 51. During his arrest he told officers that he was cold. Police say Taylor was unsteady on his feet, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He also failed a field sobriety test.
Taylor was arrested and charged with the theft of the ambulance and driving under the influence of alcohol. No supplies were reported used or missing from the ambulance and there was no report of the vehicle being damaged. Later investigation disclosed that Taylor had an outstanding arrest warrant for escaping from the Colorado Department of Corrections. He is currently being held in the Boulder County jail.
A 26-YR.-OLD WOMAN STOLE a Houston (Texas) Fire Department ambulance Saturday night and took it for a drive before abandoning it.
According to a published report by KTRK-TV, the ambulance crew had just taken a patient into the ER when the woman hopped in a drove off. Another ambulance that was crusing around looking for it, found the abandoned unit about 45 minutes later.
The woman was subsequently arrested and charged, but it has not yet been disclosed how she became suspect. Police say that they believe she was under the influence of drugs at the time. Apparently the ambulance was not damaged during the incident.
AN EMSA AMBULANCE IN TULSA, Oklahoma, was stolen Saturday night but recovered 20 minutes later without anything missing or damaged.
The ambulance was on a public standby at a special event at the River Spirit Casino. It was parked and unattended when someone got inside somehow around 8 pm and drove it away. It was found abandoned a little over 2 miles away in a residential neighborhood.
KJRH-TV filed this video report from the scene:
Police are looking at surveillance tapes from the casino and its event center in hopes of identifying the thief.
A CAREER CRIMINAL IN BRYAN, TEXAS, began a sequence of events Monday that ended up with him driving and crashing an ambulance that he stole during his attempted flight from police.
Coty Joe Lohse, 28, began his bad day by shoplifing an undisclosed item from a beauty supply store in Bryan and triggered the theft-alarm device. From there his event-filled flight from justice began. The College Station Police Department reported the subsequent actions in a press release:
Bryan Police Department advised that the suspect shoplifted from the Q Beauty at 506 N. Texas Avenue. As he fled the store, the suspect set off the theft detection system. It is unknown what was taken. The suspect then went to CARQUEST at 410 N. Texas Avenue and stole a CARQUEST delivery car from their parking lot that had the keys in it.
As the suspect was driving the stolen vehicle, he hit another vehicle at W. Villa Maria Road and Wellborn Road and fled the scene of the accident. A witness followed until the suspect was involved in a second crash at Jones Butler Road and Harvey Mitchell Parkway South.
College Station Fire Department arrived at Jones Butler Road and Harvey Mitchell Parkway South and began checking the drivers for injuries. Before officers arrived on scene, the suspect entered and stole the ambulance, driving toward Holleman Drive.
As the suspect was fleeing the area, he drove through the drive-thru of McDonald’s at George Bush Drive and Marion Pugh Drive, striking a concrete pillar resulting in a third crash. Officers searched the area and the ambulance was located at the intersection of Holleman Drive and Carolina Street. The suspect was then taken into custody without incident at that location. Non-incapacitating injuries were reported.
The Bryan-College Station Eagle adds: Lohse has been arrested multiple times since 2010, including two times this month, once on a public intoxication charge and once on charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.
A RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA, FIRE DEPARTMENT AMBULANCE was the target of a joyrider/thief Saturday night, but it turned out to be a very brief ride and not so joyous after all.
Rapid City FD photo
The medic unit and an engine company were on the scene of a medical emergency and inside a house tending to a patient when they heard the backup alarm sounding on the ambulance. Looking out the window they saw the ambulance being driven off and they called for the police and a backup ambulance.
The ambulance was soon located parked in an alleyway about two blocks away and witnesses at that location were able to identify two people who were running away from the unit. Mike Johnston, 26, of Rapid City was quickly arrested and charged with driving under the influence and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He is currently free on $300 bail.
The Rapid City Journal has the STORY.
Rapid City Fire Department WEBSITE.
SAN ANTONIO POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR the thief who stole one of the fire department's ambulances Monday morning and then ditched it about a mile away. The ambulance crew was inside a private dwelling tending to a patient around 2:15 am, but when they came outside they found the ambulance was gone.
It was soon located by the GPS signal but when police arrived there was nobody around. Witnesses say that they saw a man running from the ambulance when it stopped. It was apparent that the thief had rummaged through some of the cabinets, but they medics do not believe anything was missing.
The ambulance driver had left the keys in the ignition with the motor running when they went inside the house. A Fire Department spokesman said that it is possible to lock the doors with the motor running, but SAFD policy does not require it. Another ambulance was dispatched to transport the 84-yr.-old patient to the hospital but it is not believed that the delay affected the outcome of her ailment.
A CICERO (Illinois) FIRE DEPARTMENT AMBULANCE was parked at the loading zone of the MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn Tuesday night when a man got into the cab around 11:15 pm and drove off. A short while after the alert went out to the local police departments, the ambulance was spotted in Chicago about 10 miles from where it was stolen.
The officers "curbed" the ambulance and took the driver into custody without incident. No further information has been released yet.
A DALLAS, TEXAS, AMBULANCE was stolen Sunday night while the medics were looking for a reported victim who didn't exist. They were dispatched around 11 pm to an apartment development, but when they arrived there was no victim to be found.
The paramedics left the ambulance parked with the ignition on while they searched for any potential victims. While they were looking, Dallas police say a man on crutches got into the unlocked ambulance and drove away.
"Not our crutches…" (KDFW-TV photo)
The paramedics immediately called police and got them to start following the ambulance using its GPS-based automatic vehicle tracking system.
A squad car followed the vehicle until it stopped in the 1800 block of Alaska Ave in south Dallas, about 12 miles away. As the man parked the ambulance, officers swooped [sic] in and arrested him.
Inside the ambulance they found a pair of crutches that are not part of the ambulance inventory, and a backpack. The thief, identified as Alvin Clayton, told them that he needed a ride to visit his grandmother.
WHILE TWO PARAMEDICS IN GRAZ, AUSTRIA, were lifting the cot carrying their patient into the rear of their ambulance, it suddenly drove off leaving them standing there.
The ambulance was parked and running outside a house where the medics were working on an epileptic when, according to witnesses, two men got into the cab a moment before the ambulance crew brought the patient out of the house. The Austrian Times tells us:
Emergency services coordinator Peter Hoppenberger said: "All our vehicles are set up with GPS signaling so we can track the ambulances movements. We spoke with the men via the speaker system as they drove off.
A short while later the thieves parked the car on the side of the road and fled on foot.
When one of the men arrived home, he got into a big fight with his father. The son was seriously injured and emergency services were called. He was taken to hospital in the same ambulance he had stolen only a few hours earlier.
The police quickly sorted out who was who and arrested the two who now face multiple charges of theft, damage of property, assault as well as drunk driving.
A 56-YR.-OLD MAN IN ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland, is in the pokey this morning after stealing an ambulance while the crew was inside a house tending to a patient. The loser is also being charged with "driving while impaired" following his adventure that began at 7:30 pm Wednesday evening.
The ambulance was found and recovered along with the joyrider within a short time.
A man who reportedly took an ambulance on a joy ride Wednesday night has been released from custody on conditions he abstain from alcohol and not drive. Donald Walker Baker, 56, of an unknown address, appeared in provincial court in St. John's this morning.
He's charged with impaired driving, failing the breathalyzer and joyriding (taking a vehicle without permission).
Lawyers agreed to have Baker released from jail with the condition that he abstain from alcohol. He was also ordered not to drive. He's due back in court Sept. 19.