A stolen ambulance that had to be stopped with road spikes had been attending a patient in a Dunedin home.

A St John Ambulance crew responded to a call for emergency assistance at a residential address in South Dunedin late last night, St John Southland district operations manager Pauline Buchanan said.

While attending to the patient the ambulance was stolen.

"It is reprehensible that while our ambulance officers were providing essential clinical care to a patient someone would steal their ambulance," Buchanan said.

"There was complete disregard for the consequences of their actions and for the patient they were caring for.

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"It is fortunate that the patient was able to be treated at the scene and did not require transportation and there were no further calls for ambulance assistance during this time as this could have potentially impacted one of our patients."

The vehicle was taken in South Dunedin just after 11pm on Sunday, police say.

They tracked it using its GPS and it was stopped in Waihola using road spikes.

It did not crash and no one was hurt.

A local man in his 30s was arrested, police say.

St John was grateful for the "swift response" by police to the theft and in catching the man who stole it.

"We understand that the ambulance has sustained considerable damage so will be off the road for repairs, putting it out of action as an emergency resource," Buchanan said.