HEARTLESS thieves have struck at children’s hospitals in Scotland at least 80 times in the past five years.
Christmas gifts, games consoles, toys, and even cash belonging to stressed parents are among the stolen items worth thousands of pounds.
Patients’ groups branded the crooks responsible as the “lowest of the low”.
There were 15 thefts or suspected thefts over the past five years at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital
In August 2008, there was a theft from a cupboard where children’s play equipment and gifts are stored.
Some toys were reported stolen, and there was said to have been “an attempt to steal Game Cube” console made.
Thieves struck the parents’ accommodation at the hospital twice in January 2009, taking clothing, cups and flasks.
A television was reported stolen from the parents’ lounge in February 2009, which led to it being replaced.#
In May 2012, a collection tin was stolen from the hospital’s concourse.
At the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, there were 24 reported thefts.
In December last year, “Christmas gifts, tea/coffee, biscuits, wine chocolates and scented products” worth a total of £130 were taken.
A “diagnostic computer” worth £300 was stolen in February 2011 from the hospital in the Sciennes area of the city.
A hard drive for an Xbox 360 was stolen in August 2009, and a console and two games of unknown value were taken in April 2011.
NHS Lothian said it did not record if any of the property had been recovered.
There were 41 reported thefts over the same period at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
Valuables including a purse, games console, toys, glasses and a handbag were stolen in the last year alone.
A desktop computer, a laptop and a memory stick were also stolen in 2009.
The information was provided following a Freedom of Information request.
Jean Turner, of Scotland Patients Association, said: “It’s the lowest of the low for someone to do that. It’s disgraceful.
“It’s tragic that people stoop so low when it’s a children’s hospital.
“We’re in hard times and things are costly, that’s when people steal and they don’t see anything wrong with it, they think it will just be insured.
“But not everyone is insured, people will pull out all the stops to give a child something special when they’re in hospital.
“They may well have borrowed the money.”
She said hospital authorities may have to consider tightening security by making visitors wear badges at all times:”We may need people to have some form of identification like badges.
“It’s terrible we need to do that but maybe we’re living in times where we need to consider it.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “All our buildings are large and open and whilst the majority of wards in our hospitals have some form of security measures including intercom and bell ringing unfortunately patients, visitors and staff are still a target for thieves.
We constantly ask our staff and patients to be both responsible and vigilant and the local police work hand in hand with our security staff. We also advise patients to hand any valuables to staff who can store them in a safe and secure area.”