With just one week before Christmas, authorities are investigating how thieves managed to steal Christmas presents specially reserved for seriously ill children being treated in the intensive care unit at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.
More than a dozen packages were stolen from a “non-public” area of the world-famous children’s hospital over the weekend, Metropolitan police said. The gifts, which were stored in a cupboard, were reported stolen yesterday by devastated hospital staff, the BBC reported.
Purchased through the hospital’s charity fund, the presents included portable DVD players, DVDs, Nintendo DS game consoles, games and toys. They were already wrapped, ready for the children and Christmas day.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe called the thieves “disgusting.”
“You can’t imagine anything worse in a way: children who are very ill and at Christmas,” Hogan-Howe told London Radio LBC. “And somebody’s taken the time to buy them something to cheer them up and somebody’s stolen them. So it’s pretty awful.”
He continued, “They are ideal gifts for children who aren’t very well and are trapped in a hospital at Christmas. Yet someone thinks it is a good idea to take them.”
The central London-based hospital treats more than 200,000 patients each year, including some of the world’s most seriously children. It will celebrate its 160th anniversary this year.
Inspector Neal Anderson, who is also leading the investigation, urged witnesses to come forward so they may try to get the presents back before Christmas day.
“To steal presents that were supposed to be for children too sick to be at home with their families at Christmas is beyond belief,” he said. “I would also urge the thief to try and think about their actions and do the decent thing and return them.”
As news of the robbery broke, a variety of businesses and organizations offered to replace the children’s presents, including Lord Sugar, Currys and PC World.
A hospital spokesman confirmed that new gifts were arriving yesterday.
“We have been overwhelmed by generous offers from individuals and companies to replace the missing items. These items have now been replaced by a long term supporter. Thank you to everyone who has contacted us for their concern and kindness.”
Police are still hoping to apprehend the heartless thieves.