Lifesaving defibrillator stolen from Library entrance

In the shadow of a “Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida” decal, Historic City News staff photographer Kerry McGuire captured the image of an AED lifesaving device cabinet — now empty — at the Ponce de Leon Boulevard Public Library.

Automated External Defibrillators are used in an emergency to treat victims of sudden cardiac arrest. The defibrillator, like the one that would normally be in the cabinet, are designed to quickly and easily provide an electric shock that restores the victim’s normal heart rhythm.

Tuesday night, sometime between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., a library employee was informed that the defibrillator cabinet located between the restrooms near the front door was open and the defibrillator was missing.

Police Officer Jon Marston responded to the Library to investigate the disappearance of the defibrillator — valued at about $1,000.

A growing population of transient vagrants and beggars inhabit the library grounds. They panhandle from library patrons and take turns sitting along San Carlos Street at the intersection with US-1 holding signs; the gist of which amount to “give me money”.

These vagrants come inside the library to enjoy the air conditioning, wash up in the hand sinks, use the toilets and have been observed taking naps in the chairs placed there for reading. They avail themselves of the library computers and use the library’s Internet connection to exchange e-mails and surf the web.

Library employees and volunteers say that when the vagrants congregate just outside the library entrance, some library patrons are afraid to get out of their cars or to come inside. One local man, who asked not to be identified, told Historic City News reporters that he was concerned about leaving his car unattended in the parking lot for fear that it could be burglarized. “These people have backpacks,” he pointed out. “It would be too easy for one of them to conceal something — then just jump on the Sunshine Bus.”

The cabinet that houses the defibrillator had an alarm that was suppose to sound when the door was opened — but it failed to sound. There may be surveillance video available that would help identify a suspect in this crime.

Community Affairs Officer Barbara Stevens of the St. Augustine Police Department reports that the investigation is ongoing.

Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

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