Kevin Cokely, NBC 5 News
Police say the man stole an ambulance left running outside the emergency room at a Fort Worth hospital.
A man's joyride in a stolen ambulance didn't last long.
Police said 29-year-old Michael Jefferson stole an ambulance left running outside the emergency room at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.
A police sergeant spotted it running two red lights along West Rosedale Street, first at Forest Park and then at Eighth Avenue without the emergency lights on. After losing it, the sergeant found it back at the hospital -- just as Jefferson parked it at the valet stand.
The ambulance was not a MedStar vehicle, but the ambulance service said the vehicles can be tempting targets for thieves because of the expensive equipment and pharmaceuticals inside.
"We have to keep it running, obviously, because of pharmaceuticals, and there are things that need to stay at particular temperatures in there," said Chris Cunningham, MedStar supervisor.
Medstar's only had one ambulance stolen in 26 years. But about one ambulance is reported stolen per week across the country.
"Typically, it's individuals that are intoxicated, perhaps, [or have] mental issues that are going on with them, or perhaps they're just looking for a joy ride," Cunningham said.
Stolen ambulances are often quickly recovered with the help of GPS tracking devices.
"It's such a rare occurrence but, however, it does happen," Cunningham said.