Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and the PSNI have issued a joint appeal following the sustained deliberate removal of lifesaving equipment along the River Bann.
The situation came to a head last week, when 11 individual lifelines were taken, leaving no emergency aids in place from the Old Bridge at Christie Park to the Cutts at Castleroe.
Throwlines and buoyancy aids can make the difference between life and death, and there is a growing concern that a tragedy will occur if this type of mindless behaviour continues.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes, said: “This vital equipment is provided for the simple purpose of keeping people safe, and it is beyond belief that it would be removed or destroyed.
“To take all 11 lifelines, leaving a long stretch of riverbank without emergency equipment, is a disgrace and we cannot allow this to continue.
“To those behind this – it must stop before it’s too late. An emergency can arise at any time. It could be your friend or family member in need and this equipment could save their live.
“To anyone who witnesses such irresponsible behaviour please make sure to report it immediately and help us address this grave situation.”
Supporting the Mayor’s comments, Sergeant Clare Sweeney said: “It defies belief that people are willing to put the lives of others at risk through such reckless action.
“We are appealing for anyone who witnessed the lines being taken or saw anything suspicious in the area earlier this week to contact us on 101 quoting reference 537 of June 25th. A report can also be made using the online reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport. Alternatively, information can be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.