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Joy ride leaves paramedic without a vehicle

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A car thief endured a crazy ride early Monday morning after stealing a Fire Department sports utility vehicle while it was still running, colliding with another car, driving in the wrong direction down a one-way street and finally crashing into five parked cars.

The suspect escaped from the scene and has not been apprehended, said Police Department Sgt. Neville Gittens, adding that the department is conducting an investigation but has no witnesses.

The theft occurred after a paramedic captain accidentally left one of the department’s Ford Expeditions unlocked, with the keys in the car, during an emergency medical call just after midnight on Sunday, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Pete Howes. Normally, he said, vehicles are left running during medical calls so the emergency lights can remain on, but the doors are supposed to be locked.

“[The captain] grabbed a medical bag and inadvertently left the car unlocked,” Howes explained, adding that officials carry around an extra set of keys so they can keep unattended cars running and secure.

The thief jumped into the vehicle at 565 Grove St. and proceeded north onto Webster Street, where he or she collided with another car, causing minor injuries to the other driver, police said. The stolen vehicle then reportedly took a left onto Golden Gate Avenue — going the wrong way on a one-way road — and got about a block before it crashed into five parked cars.

Finding that the car was disabled, Gittens said, the thief fled from the vehicle — just a half-mile from where it was originally stolen.

Howes, who has been with the department since 1982, could recall only one other similar circumstance in 2000, when someone stole an ambulance in the Western Addition.

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