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A Hull teenager who stole life-saving equipment from a fire engine attending a van fire was found guilty of theft at Hull Magistrates' Court yesterday.

David Bakirovas, 18, stole water rescue equipment and a door-breaker, known by the emergency services as "The Big Red Key", shortly before 0400 on 6 November 2016. Hull crews had been out almost non-stop across the city as Bonfire Night celebrations brought with it an increased number of call-outs. Even in the early hours of the following morning, crews from Calvert Lane were still busy putting out a deliberate van fire off Sculcoates Lane in Hull.

Whilst tackling the fire, Bakirovas casually approached the engine and lifted the locker door on one side. A few minutes later he returned to the vehicle and removed a large bag of water rescue equipment and the door breaker before running off into the darkness.

Bakirovas, of Shannon Road, Longhill, east Hull, admitted theft and appeared at Hull Magistrates' Court, where he was ordered to pay £717.91 compensation, a victim surcharge of £85 and costs of £85.

As reported in the Hull Daily Mail, senior officers branded the theft of the water rescue kit, which contained a grab bag and firefighters' personal protective equipment, as "appalling".

Station Manager John Askew, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service's Fleet and Equipment Manager, said the theft happened as firefighters dealt with numerous fires in the early hours of the morning after Bonfire Night.

Crews from Clough Road, Bransholme and Calvert Lane were dealing with a "well alight" van in Tunis Street, off Sculcoates Lane, west Hull, when Bakirovas seized his chance to steal the equipment.

SM Askew said: "It's appalling that anyone would steal vital, lifesaving equipment from a fire engine. The Big Red Key, as we know it, is used when we need to access a building quickly in order to rescue someone who is trapped.

"There is always the potential for crews to be sent from one job to another. Crews need to be able to rely on kit being in the right place, so the consequences of this young man's action had the potential to be disastrous."

SM Askew revealed CCTV played a key part in bringing a prosecution against Bakirovas:

"All of our vehicles are fitted with CCTV," he said. "We sometimes review footage from incidents for training purposes.

"CCTV is also used to deter people inflicting violence and abuse on our crews. We are also prepared, as this case shows, to pass footage to the police should thefts or tampering of equipment occur."

SM Askew urged the public to respect crews and equipment.

"Stealing or tampering with equipment carried on our vehicles is mindless," he said. "What would anyone possibly want with river rescue equipment? In my mind, it's about as low as anyone can get."

The door-breaker has been returned to the Fire Service. The water rescue equipment has never been found.