Thieves stole a satellite navigation system from an ambulance as it was parked outside a Tyneside hospital.
Ambulance chiefs condemned the theft, which means the vehicle will be off the road until a replacement is fitted.
Northumbria Police said the system was stolen in the early hours of Wednesday, when the vehicle was parked outside Newcastle General Hospital.
The North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust said the system was not compatible with any other vehicle.
A trust spokesman said: "The satellite navigation screens are completely redundant once taken out of an ambulance as they are linked to other systems within the ambulance.
"The real cost is taking a vehicle off the road to replace the equipment - this means a vital resource is not available to respond to patients."