MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man who police say stole a Memphis Fire Department ambulance and drove himself home from a hospital was caught after he was seen bragging about the crime in a video on social media.
Desai Billingsley, 23, is charged with theft of property greater than $250,000. He also faces a 2017 charge of violating the sex offender registry act, according to jail records.
Witnesses told police they saw a man wearing blue hospital scrubs get in the ambulance and drive it away from Regional One hospital in the Medical District around 9 Wednesday night. It was found unoccupied about an hour and a half later at Breedlove Street and St. Charles Avenue in North Memphis.
Rodney Hughes Jr. lives in the North Memphis neighborhood. He said he became concerned when he saw an ambulance without its lights on speeding down the street and followed it to the New Chicago Park, where the driver got out.
“It came down the street maybe doing 60 -70 mph, and it kind of jumped through a dip in the road,” said Hughes. “We were trying to make sure nobody was in the back of the ambulance.”
He was shocked when he saw the ambulance driver was actually a patient. He started recording him with his cell phone.
“I was just tripping. It was like a joke. I couldn’t believe someone actually did it,” said Hughes .
According to authorities, the paramedics assigned to the ambulance parked on the street, leaving the keys inside and the engine running because the ambulance bays at the hospital were full.
The next day, Hughes’ video began circulating on social media of the man in hospital scrubs getting out of the ambulance with medical supplies in his hands. The patient claimed he’d stolen the ambulance to get home from the hospital after he’d been shot.
“Man, they didn’t want to give me a ride home,” the man said on the video.
See the original video here. (Warning: Profanity)
Police identified the man in the video as Billingsley and booked him Friday. His address was listed on Decatur Street in Memphis, a few blocks from where the ambulance was found in the New Chicago neighborhood.
The ambulance was valued at $258,000 and had more than $100,000 worth of equipment and medical supplies inside. Police say Billingsley also took bandages, pads, and the keys to the ambulance.
Officers noted Billingsley had been the victim in a shooting on July 11. He’s now in the Shelby County jail with a hearing scheduled Monday.