An impassioned plea has been made for the return of two St John Ambulance bicycles, stolen over the weekend.
The quick response bikes, worth round £3,000, were taken from commercial premises on the Garvaghy Road between lunchtime on Friday and Sunday teatime.
George Laverty, who has been superintendent of the charity’s Craigavon branch for 20 years, said members were desperate to get the bikes back.
He explained, “These bikes are crucial to the service we provide. They were used at Armagh Show in June where they helped save the life of a man who suffered a heart attack.
“The bikes were on the scene within minutes and the man is now doing well.”
The bikes are yellow, with green reflective tape and the name of St John’s Ambulance on them, and are used widely at large-scale public events where they are able to quickly get through crowds and packed streets.
They each carry a pannier on the back loaded with oxygen, entonox, a defibrillator and other first aid equipment. These panniers were removed by the thieves and left untouched.
Mr Laverty said the bikes, paid for by public donations, were due to be on duty at the Country Comes to Town show in Portadown on Saturday, September 21.
He added, “We will still have ambulances and first aid staff there but the show covers a wide area and the bikes are vital as they are often quicker than an ambulance. We are appealing to people to pass any information on to police.”
Town businessman Ian Milne, who is president of the local division, said he had spoken to Sinn Fein and they, along with the local community, were being “very supportive”.
The bikes were bought in 2005 after a fundraising drive and were part-sponsored by the former Esther’s Restaurant with other donations from members of the public.
A police spokesman said entry was forced to the premises and detectives are currently viewing CCTV footage..
Anyone with information should contact police on 0845 600 8000 or the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.