Thieves target cars parked at hospital
BRAZEN thieves have stolen catalytic converters from vehicles parked at Stepping Hill Hospital.
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust has urged staff and the public to be vigilant after a number of thefts from car parks on the site, most recently this Sunday.
A member of staff told the M.E.N. that following the latest theft and an incident last September, she and her colleagues are becoming increasingly concerned that their own cars will be targeted.
She said: “It’s the second time in three months.
“We all work so hard, doing 12-hour days and the chances are you will come out and not be able to start your car on the way home.”
Last autumn the woman raised the alarm after catching thieves as they were targeting a colleague’s car, but says they weren’t deterred even when she called the police. She added: “I was on an early finish shift and they were doing it in broad daylight. I got straight onto the police and shouted at them, but they are fearless, because they knew that by the time I could get hold of anybody, they would be gone.”
She added that staff fears are being compounded because barriers to their car parks have not been working.
She says staff have to pay around £25 a month, depending on salary, to use staff car parks at the hospital, as well as a £20 one-off fee for a fob to operate the barriers. Police confirmed they were called to the hospital on Sunday and in September, to reports of a theft from a motor vehicle.
The hospital says its security team are aware of the issue and says anyone who would like an escort to their car should ask for one.
They have described the thefts as a ‘widespread menace,’ affecting other hospitals, as well as the rest of the region. A spokesman for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have unfortunately had recent problems with the barriers at our staff car parks.
“This was initially caused by the barriers being vandalised, followed by a delay in replacements being sent to us, and then subsequently a software fault in the hospital’s barrier system, which means the barriers are still currently out of use.
“We have apologised to staff for the inconvenience and are working to solve the issue as soon as possible.
“The theft of catalytic converters is a separate matter, as these thefts have occurred both before and after the barrier problems.
“Catalytic converter thefts are sadly now a widespread menace, and are also occurring in other areas of Stockport, other hospitals in Greater Manchester, and indeed across the country. This is an extremely difficult problem to deal with, as the gangs involved are organised, and use measures to avoid detection such as disguising number plates.
“Our security team are alert to the problem however, they have shared our security camera footage with police and are working with them on the complaints. We are urging both staff and public to be vigilant and to alert our security office if they see anyone acting suspiciously, and security escorts are also available on request.”
Stepping Hill Hospital Stepping Hill staff member