Charities are backing calls to impose tougher fines on thieves and vandals who target life-saving defibrillators.
Dundee and Angus’ branch of St John Scotland, which helps set up defibrillators in public sites, is supporting the campaign which was launched by the Liberal Democrats.
And Bill Spence, branch convener of public access to defibrillators, slammed the mindless acts of vandalism and, in some instances, theft.
He said: “It is always disappointing to learn of theft or interference with defibrillators. This puts lives at risk.
“We certainly back the move for heavier fines to discourage people from doing this.
Mr Spence added: “In the past we have had acts of vandalism and theft.
“We had one cabinet set on fire in Kirriemuir and there was one stolen about a year ago in St Andrews.”
The Lib Dems are insisting on introducing an “offence aggravator”, which would take the form of additional fines for those who damage outside defibrillators in cabinets.
A spokeswoman for St John Scotland said: “Many communities work hard to raise funds for a defibrillator because they know how important it is to have one readily available if someone suffers a sudden cardiac arrest.
“Sadly, some of these communities have experienced losing someone close to them because a defibrillator wasn’t available.”
Dr James Cant, chief executive officer of the Resuscitation Council (UK), blasted the thieves and vandals and said: “To steal or damage one is unthinkably cruel and could prevent someone’s life being saved.”
He said: “I’d urge the Scottish Government to look into stricter penalties for anyone who damages or interferes with defibrillators.
“These are life saving devices which come at quite a cost to the local community.”