Thief stole laptop from north-east coastguard… 12 hours later big-hearted locals replaced it

Fraserburgh Coastguard officers Darren Scott and Martin Stephen.

Big-hearted locals from a north-east town have rallied to the support of a vital rescue team that was left crippled by a theft.

Fraserburgh Coastguard had to cancel training exercises after someone broke into the station in the West Shore area over the weekend and stole a laptop.

It was the volunteers’ only means of accessing official materials and operational updates.

The loss effectively meant they were “offline” – though still be able to respond to emergency calls.

The alleged crime was made all of the worse by the fact the volunteers had funded the machine themselves – and only bought it two weeks earlier.

Deputy station officer Darren Scott branded the incident “sickening” and appealed for help to replace it – while colleagues warned it put lives at risk.

Within 12 hours enough funds had been donated to replace the IT equipment – 19 people pledging more than £430 between them as of last night.

Their money, however, will likely be spent on providing new security to the station after an unnamed benefactor also donated a brand new laptop to the team.

Last night, Mr Scott said he was overwhelmed by the act of generosity.

“The response has been absolutely unbelievable,” he said.

“We really can’t thank the public enough, people from and outwith the community that’s come forward.”

He said: “I got a call this morning from the Lifeboat Station to say someone had handed in a donation.

“It was amazing. When I went down to pick it up, it was a brand new laptop.”

Mr Scott added: “We never expected this, so we will have to see how we use the money going forward.

“We’ve discussed having some CCTV coverage at the station to cover us in the future, but the money raised has been a bonus for us.”

The thief searched the volunteers’ lockers for valuables before fleeing with the Acer laptop.

Police are investigating the incident.