Police take down person behind wheel of stolen Houston Fire ambulance

Fire officials said the suspect already stole a vehicle from the Heights area before rolling up to a HFD station.

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Monday, February 6, 2023
Police take down person behind wheel of stolen Houston Fire ambulance
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Houston Fire Department warned the public that its ambulance from a Second Ward station was stolen on Monday. Police were able to stop the suspect but not for an hour.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Police have taken down a person behind an ambulance believed to have been stolen from a Houston Fire Department station in the Second Ward on Monday afternoon.

SkyEye flew above a pursuit in the Rice Village area involving the white emergency vehicle just after 3 p.m.

The ambulance was seen being followed by multiple Houston police vehicles before trying to plow its way around a stopped intersection, where officers made their move and took down the suspect.

The fire department later confirmed the arrest and the return of the vehicle in the area of Rice and Greenbriar. Houston police added that their helicopter was able to pinpoint the ambulance in the area of the West Loop and Richmond, where pilots were able to relay information to patrol officers below.

Police said road spikes were used to slow the ambulance down in the 5300 block of Greenbriar. HPD is pursuing auto theft and felony evading arrest counts, but officials believe the suspect was in crisis.

How it all began

The moment was preceded by some uncertainty about where the ambulance was heading to.

The fire department first tweeted word of the stolen emergency vehicle at 1:36 p.m.

"CAUTION: @HoustonFire has received reports of Ambulance 17 stolen from #HFD Fire Station 17. @houstonpolice are currently in pursuit of the stolen ambulance," HFD tweeted while tagging Fire Chief Samuel Peña.

About an hour after the tweet, the fire department disclosed details describing a chain of automobile thefts, starting in the Greater Heights area.

District Chief Steven Birkelbach told Eyewitness News that the suspect took a black Infiniti from the gas station in front of a Kroger near 11th and Shepherd. The thief then drove almost seven miles to the fire station located in the 2800 block of Navigation, where the suspect interacted with a firefighter raising a flag.

After some words were exchanged, the suspect went into the third holding bay of the station, got into an ambulance, and took off, Birkelbach said. The ambulance supervisor heard the commotion, got into his own vehicle, and followed the ambulance.

The HFD vehicle went off on Navigation at the U.S. 59-Minute Maid Park split, where the chief said the supervisor lost the person.

Authorities did not know where the white reserve ambulance was heading, and they were unable to track it since it was not on an actual service run.

Surprisingly, Birkelbach, who has served 37 years in the department, said ambulance thefts are rare, but they happen a couple of times a year. Bottom line, he says, keys are not supposed to be left in the vehicles.

WATCH: HFD district chief breaks down how ambulance was stolen

No injuries were reported.

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