THIEVES stole lifesaving drugs after breaking into two ambulances.

Paramedics said the backup ambulances were targeted at the Leftwich station last Tuesday night.

Criminals also stole vital satellite navigation systems before breaking into a locked cupboard at the base in Kenmare Bank.

"This has the potential to delay our service," said operations service manager Mike Moore.

"These are our backup vehicles so if another vehicle breaks down now, we're going to have to source another from elsewhere and all this takes time.

"It's just mindless damage. The satnavs are no use to anyone but it's going to cost us time and money to repair them."

He said it is also upsetting for staff at the depot who work hard to provide a quick and efficient service.

"We thought we were respected in the community," he said.

"The staff are just gutted. It's just wilful, mindless damage. Here we are trying to provide a service to the public and to respond as quickly as possible to sometimes life threatening situations and this happens."

Mr Moores has worked for the ambulance service for 29 years and says incidents like this have increased during his career.

"At one time people wouldn't touch us because we were respected for helping to save lives," he said.

"Unfortunately it's not the case these days."

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) bosses have condemned the thieves.

Dave Kitchin, head of service for the Cheshire and Merseyside area of NWAS said: "This thoughtless act is irresponsible, costs the service money and can put lives at risk.

"We would urge anyone with information about this incident to contact Crimestoppers or Cheshire Police urgently."

To contact police ring 0845 458 0000.