HEARTLESS hoodlums have stolen a community defibrillator in Dovercourt.

Crooks smashed their way into a defibrillator box to steal the £700 life-saving piece of equipment from inside on Monday night.

The defibrillator, attached to Long Meadows Community Centre, was believed to have been stolen sometime after 9.30pm.

Dale Cheesman, general manager of Long Meadows Community Centre, said she was saddened to hear the defibrillator has been taken.

She said: "Someone has broken the casing and grabbed the defibrillator from inside somehow.

"The next nearest one is at Harwich and Dovercourt Cricket Club, but that isn't very close.

"They are worth about £700 and the smashed casing would also have to be replaced.

"It's so sad because it's an area where many elderly residents live and they may need the defibrillator."

It is the second time this year a defibrillator in the area has been wrecked.

In April a defibrillator box in Ingestre Street was damaged by vandals, costing Harwich and District Fellowship For The Sick £600 to repair.

There are 15 defibrillators around the Harwich area which have been installed in the past three years for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias.

Mike Button, Harwich and District Fellowship For The Sick trustee, said he was very upset someone had stolen the defibrillator.

He said: "It will cost about £1,000 to replace it and the box.

"I feel really disapointed and can't understand the reason someone would do this."

If you have any information call Dale on 01255 552407 or call Essex Police on 101.