Sussex lifebuoy thieves 'risking lives'
Vandals and thieves targeting lifebuoys in East Sussex are putting lives at risk, coastal authorities have said.
Thirteen lifebuoys have been taken in the Lewes area in a year, according to Lewes District Council.
Newhaven Coastwatch said in one case a lifebelt line was stolen less than an hour after being replaced.
The council and Coastwatch urged people to be vigilant and report missing equipment. Coastguards said lifebuoys could buy vital time during a rescue.
Lewes councillor Robbie Robertson said: "It's putting people's lives in danger."
He urged people to report missing equipment and the people responsible, and added that offenders could be arrested and fined up to £1,000.
He said: "Lives could be lost but it's not only that. It's actually costing us money every year.
"It's only £700, but £700 could save a life, and that's what we need to do - save that life rather than pay the money."
Solent Coastguard has urged anybody who sees a person in trouble in the sea to dial 999, ask for the coastguard, use the lifebuoys to buy time in the event of a rescue, and not to go into the water themselves but wait for assistance.