Thieves are putting lives at risk by stealing vital life-saving equipment.
South Tyneside Council is appealing for help after the equipment was thrown into the river at Hebburn.
The consequences could, quite literally, be deadlyCoun Moira Smith
Seven lifebuoys at Hebburn Marina and a further three at Hebburn Riverside Park were all removed from their moorings at the weekend – a dangerous act which could put lives at risk.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: “These actions may well be down to high jinks but the consequences could, quite literally, be deadly.
“These lifebuoys are there for a reason and could save someone’s life in an accident. The people who are removing them are putting lives at risk so I would urge them to think very carefully about their actions.”
Most of the buoys have since been recovered and restored to their positions but some are inevitably washed away, leaving the ouncil, and ultimately taxpayers, to pay for replacements.
Councillor Smith added: “In these challenging financial times, it is disappointing that council resources have to be spent on replacing these items because of the reckless behaviour of a small number of individuals.”
Anyone who notices a missing lifebuoy or sees anyone tampering with the potentially life-saving equipment is asked to call the council on (0191) 424 7989, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.