Criminals damaged a mobile breast cancer screening unit in a bungled attempt to steal its fuel.
The NHS van was targeted while it was parked at Fluthers Car Park on East Bridge in Cupar.
Police Sergeant Clark Forrest said the vehicle, which travels around Fife providing the screening service for women, was unable refuel after the attempted break in.
He said: “I am particularly disappointed that anyone would consider targeting a NHS breast screening unit.
“Although the suspects have been unsuccessful in their attempt to steal fuel from this mobile unit, the damage caused has meant that the fuel could not be replenished until the lock was repaired.
“I would ask anyone within information about this crime to contact Cupar Police on 101 and quote reference 1053 of the October 18.”
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker, who earlier this year spoke out about the need to improve cancer detection rates, called the crime “shameful”.
The Labour MSP said: “So many women rely on the breast screening service and this crime would have put in jeopardy their ability to deliver their programme.
“If successful this would not have been a victimless crime. I hope that we do not see a repeat of this and if anyone has any information then please contact the police.”
Police issued an appeal for witnesses after the incident, which happened during the early evening or overnight at the town centre car park.
It is believed the would-thieves made attempts to siphon off fuel from the unit between 4.30pm last Wednesday and 8.30am the following day.
A spokesperson for NHS National Services Scotland added: “NHS National Services Scotland is aware of a recent attempt to steal fuel from a mobile breast screening unit and is supporting Police Scotland with their inquiry.”
In Scotland, women between the ages of 50 and 70 are invited to attend for breast screening, which is vital for the early detection of cancers.
There are six screening centres across the country, one each in Inverness, Aberdeen, Irvine, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.
These are complemented by 18 mobile units, which travel to various locations to make it easier to attend for screening.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme does not operate on a walk-in basis and anyone attending a mobile unit does so by appointment.