A grandmother’s handbag was rifled through, and £80 in cash was stolen, while she lay on her sick bed in hospital.
Crooks also swiped Anita Crawley’s debit card and tried to take £470 from her bank account in the early hours of the morning before sneakily putting the card back into her purse.
The 69 year old, who was being cared for at Watford General Hospital’s A&E department within a private room at the time, said: “I felt vulnerable and very frightened. I was a sitting target.
“I thought what else could they do to me.
“I felt violated.”
Luckily Anita’s bank stopped the transaction as it was flagged up as being out of character and the police were called in when she realised the following day that she had been a victim of theft.
“I was in a state of shock,” said Anita, who had been admitted to hospital with severe gastroenteritis and had to be placed on a drip.
“It could have been someone in their 80s who has got dementia, who could have had their life savings in their purse.
“If they needed 80 quid, I would have given it to them but why do that to a vulnerable person who is ill?
“It is wicked.”
The theft took place two weeks ago, on Monday, August 17.
Anita, who is now back at home in Adeyfield, Hemel Hempstead, hopes her story will raise awareness and prevent other poorly patients from becoming victims.
Police are investigating the theft and Anita has submitted a formal complaint to the hospital and raised concerns about security.
Since the incident security patrols have been stepped up at the hospital.
West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust director of environment Kevin Howell said: “We were very concerned to hear of the theft of money reported to the police by one of our patients and apologise to Mrs Crawley for the distress this has caused her.
“The theft is currently being investigated by Hertfordshire Police and our own security management specialist.
“We take the safety of our patients, and their belongings, very seriously and have guidelines in place to assist with securing patients property.
“We are currently heightening security patrols in certain areas, and increasing awareness amongst patients and the public around securing and not leaving items unattended.”