“Low life” thieves are targeting vulnerable patients at Royal Perth Hospital, stealing personal belongings, money and even medical equipment.
A freedom of information investigation has uncovered 124 counts of stealing from patients, their family and friends and medical staff at RPH between January 2014 and August 2015.
Incident reports from the hospital’s security logbook revealed dozens of thefts of mobile phones, cash and computers from patients’ rooms.
Some of the stealing occurred from bedside tables when patients were asleep, or out of their rooms having surgery or tests.
“Unfortunately there are some pretty low life people in our society who will take advantage of anyone in a difficult situation,” Health Minister John Day said.
“It’s completely unacceptable and appalling,” he said.
On one occasion an amputee’s wheelchair was stolen.
In another case a man was asleep at a table at the hospital’s café when a thief was caught on CCTV stealing a backpack he’d left on the floor behind him.
“When you are unwell or when a family member is unwell you are just under so much pressure and it’s just so hard to think that people are also having to cope with losing their valuables as well,” said Pip Brennan from the Health Consumers’ Council.
Nurses and doctors were also victims, with several reports of staff lockers broken into and bags, clothes and cash taken.
Security cameras outside the hospital’s emergency department filmed a man stealing a mobile phone left on a stretcher by a paramedic while he worked at the back of an ambulance.
“It’s just got to be the lowest of the low I think,” said Ms Brennan.
The security log also recorded 24 incidents of stealing from the hospital, including at least three cases when thieves took mattresses and blankets.
Vending machines were also regularly targeted, with at least one recorded case of a man caught using a drill, hidden in a backpack, to break open the machine.
RPH’s Acting Executive Director Dr Aresh Anwar said thefts at the hospital occur” as they do in any large public place frequented by thousands of people every day”, and he’s urged patients not to bring valuables to the hospital.
“Whilst we appreciate some individuals are facing tremendous hardship we cannot condone theft of any kind,” Mr Anwar said.
“We take security incidents seriously and have processes in place to ensure incidents are thoroughly investigated and appropriate legal action taken.”