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Ambulance theft a ‘PR disaster’ according to criminologist

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:23 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A man steals an ambulance in broad daylight and takes it for a joyride through several New Orleans neighborhoods.

Investigators with the New Orleans Police Department are scratching their heads as to why the medical vehicle was stolen in the first place.

“In my 10 years here with EMS, I haven’t seen anything like this happen before,” said Lt. Jonathan Fourcade, PIO with New Orleans EMS. “But we are glad that the ambulance has been recovered and our crew is safe.”

The suspect hit multiple vehicles on his journey, ending in a crash with an NOPD unit. At least three people were injured throughout the whole event, including the suspect. All were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

A criminologist with LSU Health Dr. Peter Scharf said there are two reasons for car theft and carjacking. One being instrumental motives where the perpetrator wants to steal someone’s radio, wallet, or perhaps a gun in the glove compartment.

“And the second is expressive, right? There’s an emotional reason. So I take the car may be with people in it or not-- or an ambulance-- and I ride it around and it’s a kick. I show off in front of my friends,” said Scharf. “Where am I gonna hock an ambulance, you know? And think about it.. it makes no sense!”

According to the city’s Calls for Service Data, car thefts are up 26 percent so far this year, compared to the same time period last year.

Scharf said this particular crime of stealing an ambulance just “reinforces the ‘out of control’ concept of New Orleans.”

“You know, for this to happen now is a public relations disaster,” said Scharf. “It’s theatre of the absurd and people are kind of tired of it.”

Scharf also said this should be a warning to city leaders-- if crime isn’t addressed, it could push people to move out.

The NOPD said the ambulance theft is not a carjacking, all injuries have been minor ones and no officer was injured.

The name of the suspect has yet to be released.

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