It is infuriating and disturbing to think that anyone might take advantage of an emergency on the beach to steal the personal gear of rescue personnel, but that may be what happened in Long Beach Saturday.

A personal floatation device - a life vest to you and me - with expensive associated equipment belonging to one surf rescue volunteer and the specialized helmet belonging to another were missing after the dust and spray settled following a search Saturday afternoon. (A report of people missing in the water turned out to be unfounded.)

If, by any chance, you innocently came across these items on the beach, please return them to the Observer office. Otherwise, it's hard to fathom the kind of personality that would so abuse the trust of the good-hearted people who devote untold hours to training for and responding to dire emergencies along our seashore.

In this instance, the absence of these items could have endangered rescuers or rendered them unable to respond to a real crisis in the water.

It's up to each of us to watch out for those who are watching out for us. Please keep an eye open during beach emergencies to make sure everything stays where it belongs.

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