Man, 34, jailed after stealing surgical masks from a London hospital

Covid chancers steal vital PPE: Man, 34, is jailed for three months after stealing surgical masks from a London hospital while a GP surgery risks closing down after thieves steal its only box of protective equipment

  • Lerun Hussain was caught stealing by security staff at Kings College Hospital
  • It is the latest of a growing number of incidents of coronavirus-related crime 
  • Church Street Surgery, Kidderminster, appeals for thieves to return crucial items

Lerun Hussain, pictured, pleaded guilty at Croydon Magistrates’ Court yesterday and was sentenced to three months in prison

A thief caught stealing surgical masks from a busy hospital struggling to treat coronavirus patients has been jailed in the latest incident of Covid-19-related crime. 

Police were called to Kings College Hospital in Lambeth, south London, on Sunday morning where Lerun Hussain had been detained by security staff.

The 34-year-old, of Worsopp Drive, Clapham, who was also in breach of a court order, had taken three masks and was arrested and charged with theft.

He appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to three months in prison the same day. 

It comes after a string of other offences across the country, where criminals have targeted crucial supplies in the fight against the virus.

A doctors’ surgery in Worcestershire also had face masks stolen yesterday and urged the thieves to return the items, saying they were necessary to keep the practice open.  

Since a social media appeal, Church Street Surgery, Kidderminster, said it had received a number of individual face mask donations which meant it could still continue to offer services.

The box of protective equipment had been donated by a local dental practice the day before.

West Mercia Police said they were aware of a reported theft and would be visiting the surgery on Wednesday.

The equipment was stolen from London’s Kings College Hospital, pictured, on Sunday

After the face masks were stolen, the Church Street Surgery said in a Facebook post: ‘Could the person who has stolen the only box of masks that we have in the building that were kindly donated by a local dental practice yesterday afternoon please return them to the practice.

‘We need to protect our staff to enable us to remain open.’

The surgery then thanked people for their support after a number of face masks were donated following the theft.

In a separate post, the surgery said: ‘We are totally humbled by the kindness and generosity we have received today in light of the post we made this morning regarding our stolen masks.

‘The messages of support have been overwhelming and we have received extremely generous donations of masks from individuals which now means we have enough to keep our staff safe until our official supplies arrive.

‘From each and everyone of us at the practice we thank you for your generosity and your continued support during this extremely difficult and challenging time.’

Inspector Dave King, of the Kidderminster Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: ‘My team is aware of the reported theft of face masks from the Church Street surgery in Kidderminster and while not officially reported to us yet, we will be visiting the staff today.

Face masks, pictured, and other important medical equipment have been targeted by thieves during the coronavirus crisis

‘In these challenging and difficult times, the theft of vital medical equipment is going to add further strain and demand to the health service and the people looking after our welfare.

‘While a crime like this is naturally going to upset and concern many in our community who see NHS staff risking their lives every day, the vast majority of people are doing all they can to support each other however they can.’

Elsewhere, an ambulance service said it has received two reports of staff being approached for their personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and hand gel in a ‘way they felt intimidating’.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust described the cases as ‘isolated’.

A criminal broke into a patient transport vehicle (pictured, its shattered window) – which had a sign saying it was being used by the health service to move patients to hospitals – in Kirkby, Merseyside last week

It said it has reiterated its existing uniform policy to staff, which states that employees should not wear uniform while off-duty except when representing the service in an official capacity.

Staff are advised to cover up with a jacket if they travel to and from work in uniform.

‘This has been historically to protect staff and their vehicles from being targeted by thieves looking for medical supplies,’ the trust said in a statement. 

‘Recently, we have had reports of two isolated cases of staff being approached for their personal protection equipment (masks/hand gel etc) in a way they felt intimidating.

‘We would like to reiterate however, that the vast majority of reaction our staff receive when wearing their uniform in public while on duty is very supportive.’

In Kirby, Merseyside, last week, a ruthless thug smashed their way into a patient transport vehicle and stole vital protective equipment, while in the capital, Mark Manley, 35, was jailed for six months for a raid on an ambulance, having stolen items including masks, paper suits and hand gel.

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