MORE than 30 emergency lifebuoys have been stolen by mindless thieves in Stirling – over the space of just three months.
Stirling Council has been forced to replace dozens of the life-saving rings at over 40 stations in the area in the short space of time.
And shockingly, some areas such as Cornton Vale and Raploch, have even had to replace them daily,
Fishery officers have said they have had no reports of any lifebuoys being deployed for an emergency so believe they have been stolen maliciously.
Anyone who finds themselves getting into difficulty in the water could be at risk if the rings are not available.
Council chiefs have now advised anyone who sees people vandalising or removing the life saving equipment to contact police.
A Stirling Council spokeswoman said, “There has been a large increase in the amount of life rings which we are having to replace up and down our river banks.
“In some areas, our Fisheries Officers have needed to replace life rings on a daily basis.
“During the summer months, the river is a popular area for people so it is essential that this lifesaving equipment is in place whenever it is needed.
“Anyone who spots life rings being tampered with or removed should contact police.”
Stirling Council Fisheries said: “We have not had any reports that these have been deployed in an emergency situation so can only assume that this is being done in a malicious manner.
“These life rings are actually life-saving equipment and the results of them not being in position could be fatal.”
Locals have expressed their anger over the thefts on social media saying the culprits should be punished.
Crawford McClintock said: “There’s no cure for stupidity, well maybe a custodial sentence.”
Colin Mason wrote: “Probably setting fire to them for the fumes. We had this problem a wee while back with all of ours going missing. Eventually found the spot they were burning them.”
And Carrie McBride said: “Disgusting. These people doing it would be the first complaining if a member of their family died in the water because there were none available to help.”
A spokesman for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) also stressed the importance of lifebuoys.
He said: “Our research has shown that over half (57%) of the people who lost their lives on the coast in Scotland last year had no intention of entering the water in the first place.
“A piece of safety equipment like a life-ring can mean the difference between life and death for someone who falls in the water.”
On average more than 400 people drown in the UK every year with drowning being the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide.
It was reported last year, that on average, a UK council has to replace 150 stolen lifebuoys every year which can cost up to £45,000.