A spate of thefts and vandalism to life-saving equipment along Dundee waterfront could have potentially fatal consequences, it has been warned.
Local volunteer group Coastwatch Tay have reported 12 rescue poles and four life rings as stolen or damaged in the past month. The incidents appear to be focused on the Riverside Drive area.
Volunteers, who normally carry out weekly patrols, are now spending more of their own time visiting the area to ensure nothing further has gone missing.
All items have been quickly replaced but the trend has raised fears that lives are being put at risk.
Poles have been snapped and “javelined” into the nearby mud, Coastwatch deputy station officer William Brown told The Courier.
Over the past month we have had 12 rescue poles & 4 life rings stolen or damaged along Dundee waterfront.
This is vital rescue equipment which is often used by first responders to help rescue persons from the water.
A stolen life ring could mean a lost life. pic.twitter.com/zcNCR87R6t
— Coastwatch Tay Coastal Safety & Surveillance Org (@CoastwatchTay) November 15, 2020
He said: “There’s 41 pieces of equipment from Broughty Ferry to near the airport. We normally have to replace about two a month, so the amount that has needed replacing this past month is worrying.
“Thankfully, there is quite a stockpile, so when it’s reported something is missing it can be replaced fairly quickly, but if someone was in the water and one was missing it could be the difference between life and death.
“The points are strategically placed where we know they may be needed, based on where the Coastguard has been called out before. It is vital for them to be there and ready to be used when needed.”
Mr Brown hopes the culprits stop of their own volition but has asked members of the public in the area to watch out for suspicious behaviour.
“Someone will be using a life ring or pole for one of two reasons. One is that they are helping someone in the water, in which case you should call the emergency services.
“The other is if someone is doing something malicious, in which case we would ask people to contact police on 101, or Crimestoppers if they wish to remain anonymous.
“Hopefully if more people are watching the area, it can put a stop to this.”
Ross Greenhill, Coastal Operations area commander echoed Mr Brown’s comments that the vandalism is putting lives at risk.
He said: “Every single second counts when someone is in difficulty in the water and therefore the reckless act of stealing or damaging a life ring or throw line could be the difference between someone surviving or not.
“Life rings and throw lines are situated along the coast and are there to be thrown to a person in the water to prevent them from drowning.
“Think twice before you damage or remove this vital life-saving equipment – remember it could be your friend or family member that needs saving.”
Another!!! Station 7 Riverside drive has the life ring and rescue pole missing.
If you see anyone stealing or tampering with this vital rescue equipment please contact the police immediately. pic.twitter.com/yeDJroudNf
— Coastwatch Tay Coastal Safety & Surveillance Org (@CoastwatchTay) November 13, 2020