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Police: 5 nitrous oxide tanks stolen from Evanston hospital

(EVANSTON) A man pretending to be an employee of a medical supply company stole five “giant” tanks of nitrous oxide from a north suburban hospital last week, police said.

The 5-foot tanks were stolen sometime between 11 a.m. and 11:25 a.m. May 21 from Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said. Together, the tanks were valued at $1,600.

The thief claimed to be an employee of a medical supply company that delivers the tanks and, while a hospital employee was preoccupied, loaded them into his vehicle and drove away, Parrott said.

The suspect is described as a 180-pound Hispanic man, between 35 and 40, standing 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, Parrott said. He was driving a 1990’s beige station wagon.

Evanston police warn that nitrous oxide can be used as an inhalant, and is often sold in small balloons on the street in some places under the names “whip-its,” “noz” or “hippie crack.”

The gas, when used as an anesthetic in dental offices or hospitals, is mixed with oxygen, but that in the canisters is not cut, making it more potent, police said.This can result in hearing loss, liver and kidney damage, brain and bone marrow damage, heart failure, suffocation and even death.

Anyone with information on the stolen tanks should call police at (847)866-5000.