Heart of England Co-op is to lock defibrillators at its stores outside of trading hours, following a spate of thefts of the life-saving equipment.
Retail co-operative societies have been at the forefront of efforts to instal public-access defibrillators, especially in remote locations, as a life-saving measure, for nearly a decade, and Heart of England has them installed at stores across Coventry and Warwickshire.
But Nuneaton and Bedworth Neighbourhood Watch warned on its Facebook page that thieves are targeting the devices.
“We have been made aware of a disturbing trend emerging – thefts of community defibrillators. In the last few weeks, these essential life-saving units have been forcibly removed from locations in Nuneaton, Hinckley and Bulkington.”
The Coventry Telegraph reported that thieves used a crowbar to remove a defibrillator from Heart of England’s store in School Lane, Bulkington. It says there are reports of similar thefts from the society’s sites in Camp Hill, Birmingham; and Burbage and Croft Hill, both in Leicestershire.
Heart of England says this means the community will only be able to access defibrillators at its other stores during opening hours.
A spokesperson told the Coventry Telegraph that the society is working to come up with a solution.
“We regret to inform our members and customers that we have been forced to remove our defibrillators from our stores and branches out of trading hours,” they added. “This follows the theft of several devices, and associated damage of their protective casings, in the past couple of weeks.”