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A Northland man has been arrested for stealing from an ambulance while medics were at his house saving a family member's life.
Senior Sergeant Brian Swann, of Mid North police, said St John Ambulance was called to a medical emergency on Pembroke St in Moerewa just after midnight on Thursday.
Ambulance staff were giving potentially life-saving treatment to a patient suffering a seizure when a man at the address entered the ambulance cab and allegedly helped himself to an iPad.
Medics called police when they discovered the iPad worth $1100 was missing.
A man aged 18 and known to police was arrested and charged with theft. He appeared in the Kaikohe District Court later that day and was released on bail. He is due back in court on June 13.
Mr Swann said the theft defied belief.
"I find it unbelievable that someone would take an important piece of equipment from medical staff while they are helping that person's family member."
St John Far North manager Ben Lockie said the theft was "very disappointing".
"Staff were there trying to help somebody - that's what we do - so for someone to take advantage of that is quite disgusting."
It was also one more thing ambulance staff had to think about when they were responding to an emergency.
It was not the first time an ambulance had been targeted but, fortunately, in this case the stolen property was recovered within half an hour.
Even if the tablet had not been recovered it would have been useless to anyone but St John.
The devices could be tracked and disabled remotely so the thief would have been left with nothing but an expensive paperweight, Mr Lockie said.
In 2012 thieves raided an ambulance while paramedics were working on a patient in Whangarei.
In that case a $40,000 defibrillator - a machine used to re-start stopped hearts - was taken along with first aid equipment.
The defibrillator was found by a police dog after it was thrown over a fence. It had to be sent away for recalibration, depriving Whangarei of one of the life-saving machines while tests were carried out to ensure it was still working properly.
Northland St John manager Tony Devanney said the stupidity of a few people who had taken the machine could have led to someone's death.