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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Stolen ambulance found in forest
West Brecon rescue team's ambulance
The ambulance is used to rescue people trapped in caves
An off-road ambulance stolen from a specialist cave rescue team has been recovered from a forest in south Wales.

Thieves broke into the headquarters of the West Brecon Rescue Team near Abercrave last Sunday and stole the 34,000 Land Rover.

The vehicle was discovered apparently undamaged in Rheola Forest near Neath. Police believe thieves had found it too specialised to sell.

A team spokesman said it was a "real relief" to get the ambulance back.

The Land Rover was recovered by the rescue team on Monday night and is now being examined by forensic officers.

Valuable medical equipment damaged by the thieves will have to replaced. The vehicle will then be fitted with new locks and tracking device.

Helicopter search

Gary Evans, lead call-out warden and team medical officer, said: "We went and collected it last night. It's a real relief to have it found and it's even more of a relief to have it in relatively good condition.

"It had been driven down deep into the forest. It does look intact and the equipment we expected to be in there appeared to be there."

Mr Evans said a man involved with the Red Dragon rally at the weekend had spotted the vehicle.

"He couldn't quite locate where he had seen it, so he gave a rough description to the police and they found it from the air using a helicopter," he said.

Grant funding

Mr Evans added it would cost about 2,500 to get the Land Rover back in service, which the team hopes to do within a week.

The team had warned response times could be seriously hit by the theft of the 4x4 ambulance.

The west Brecon rescue team, which is based in Penwllt, helps save people trapped in caves and old underground mine workings across mid and south Wales. It celebrates its 60th anniversary in August.

The stolen and damaged equipment was bought with charitable donations and grant funding.

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