Thieves tar­get cars parked at hos­pi­tal

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By HE­LEN JOHN­SON he­len.john­[email protected]­i­tymir­ @he­len­j83MEN

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

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