LIVES could have been put at risk after thieves broke into an ambulance and stole its on-board computer, its owner has said.

The ambulance run by York-based YorMed was parked in Leeds city centre on Sunday morning when it was broken into.

YorMed chief officer Ashley Mason said: "This is a crime that really saddens and upsets me. Theft is never acceptable but to steal from an ambulance is disgusting.

“We are now working with both the police in York and Leeds to try and catch the offenders of this despicable crime”

The ambulance is usually used seven days a week but is now out of action until it can be repaired on Tuesday.

Mr Mason said the computer unit is totally useless out of the ambulance, as it has to be connected to the vehicle's tracking and data feeds mounted in the dashboard to work.

He said the theft happened in the early hours of Sunday. The front driver's window was smashed and the vehicle's mobile data terminal, used to communicate with ambulance control, was Taken.

Mr Mason said the ambulance crew had been on Woodhouse Lane treating patients and would not have been able to use the vehicle to transport to A&E. He said the ambulance's defibrillator and emergency drugs were not taken.

He said Leeds Police were investigating and said North Yorkshire Police had dusted the vehicle for fingerprints.

He asked anyone with information to phone West Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference WYP200420140258.