Local search and rescue groups say the theft of a rescue truck earlier this month from their peers in Williams Lake only hurts the community and the ability for volunteers to do their job providing emergency response in Northern B.C.

Thieves broke into the Central Cariboo SAR hall on April 2nd, according to Williams Lake RCMP, stealing a red 2020 Dodge Ram 5500 emergency vehicle and auto-extrication tools valued at roughly $390,000.

Brian Lamond, president for North Peace Search and Rescue, says the senseless act is a huge loss for his fellow SAR teammates, one that has been noticed by all 79 search and rescue groups serving the province.

“It’s going to be detrimental for SAR to be able to provide their services,” he said. “Along with doing search and wildland rescue, they also do road rescue, so it has huge impact on them because they respond to all the vehicles accidents in and around the Williams Lake area.”

“SAR is a pretty close-knit community, so we’ve reached out to see if there’s anything we can do or provide for them,” he said. “Anytime emergency services equipment gets stolen, it’s unimaginable that anyone would do that.”

Marcel Woodill, president of the South Peace Search and Rescue, says he’s deeply sorry to hear about theft and understands the impact of the loss all too well; equipment was stolen from one of their trailers back in 2013.

“It’s hard to see people get to the point that they’re stealing from emergency services, especially when they’re volunteers. A lot that equipment is paid for by fundraising and by the community in order to support it,” said Woodill. “We’ve been broken into and had equipment lost or damaged, it’s always a challenge for groups.”

Woodill added the theft should be taken seriously, as the loss of equipment means SAR volunteers are unable to be on the road, providing life-saving work.

“At the end of the day, the people who steal the equipment could be the ones who end up needing it,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, because that’s volunteers’ time and community fundraising that’s gone. I can guarantee that setup was not inexpensive.”