THIEVES have stolen the engine from a rescue boat designed to save people stranded during floods across the country.

The specialist boat, which was launched less than a year ago and is worth more than £30,000, was at Sankey Marine in Evesham last week where it was one of four boats stripped of its engine.

In a similar incident last week, Strensham Marina in Defford was also targeted by thieves, with boating equipment worth more than £10,000 stolen, including an outboard motor and trailer.

The Yamaha rescue boat, bought with help from a grant from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is used by the South Worcester Flood Rescue and could now be out of the water for anything up to four months as they await a replacement engine from Japan and repairs are carried out.

Roy Amphlett, South Worcester Lifeguard Club president, said: “The galling thing for us is because it is specialist we might be left unable to deploy and train but the most important thing is if anyone anywhere in the UK is affected by flooding, one of the rescue assets will not be able to assist because of somebody’s petty crime.

“They must have known what they were after. I feel sick to the pit of my stomach about the amount of time and effort the guys put into the work and training and they can’t use the boat now.”

The team are now hoping to use a boat provided by Professional Rescue to carry out training and deployment if necessary.

The four boats at Sankey Marine were on the bank when they were targeted by the thieves, who broke a fence to gain access. It is thought the thefts took place on Tuesday, February 26.

Anyone with information can call West Mercia Police on 101 quoting 175S 280213 or 137S 250213.