Published: 12:30, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 12:35, 13 January 2021
Thieves have targeted vehicles belonging to NHS workers fighting on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic again.
Four members of staff at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford left work yesterday to find their cars, which had been left in the staff car park, had been stripped of their catalytic converters.
A spokesman for Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, said: “We are saddened to report that yesterday four of our hard working NHS staff members had the catalytic converter stolen from their vehicles whilst parked in the staff car park at Darent Valley Hospital (DVH).
“Whilst their cars were being stripped and damaged, the staff members were busy caring for our poorly patients during this pandemic.
“This was certainly the last thing they needed to find after a long shift, when all they wanted to do was go home and rest!”
CCTV is being checked to see if any of the thefts were captured and the trust says the incidents have been reported to the police, who are now investigating.
No suspects have been identified yet and the Dartford Community Safety Unit is making inquiries into the thefts which were reported between 8am and 5.30pm on Monday.
Insp Sarah Rivett said: "Vehicle crime has a big impact on victims, who are left with costly repairs on top of having difficulty getting to work and supporting their families.
"It is particularly unpleasant that the offenders of this case think nothing of stealing from key workers who are providing exceptional care during a time of unprecedented difficulty and demand.
"We are reviewing the circumstances and will explore every reasonable line of enquiry.
"As part of this work, we would like to hear from anyone who has information, no matter how small, that can assist us"
Crime prevention advice has been issued by the force including contacting car manufacturers to fit a cage or clamp to help stop catalytic converters being taking.
Parking in a garage or well-lit area, installing CCTV cameras and security marking the metal shell of the converter so it can be returned is also advised.
"It is particularly unpleasant that the offenders of this case think nothing of stealing from key workers..."
It’s not the first time hospital staff have been targeted with three members of staff reporting the same offence at the onset of the first wave in April.
The trust says it has made a significant investment to improve the external CCTV camera system and the security teams make regular patrols, but unfortunately catalytic converters can be removed in minutes.
It is urging all car owners to remain vigilant and to make contact immediately with both Saba, or its own car parking operators and the police if they are a victim of this offence on site or if they see or hear anything which causes them concern.
Catalytic converters are fitted to vehicles to help reduce the toxic gases and pollutants emitted in exhaust fumes.
But theft of the devices has become popular due to the speed with which they can be stolen, their lack of identifying markings, and the value of metals they contain, such as platinum and palladium.
And in December we revealed motorists are being hit with hiking numbers of catalytic converter thefts - with offences soaring five-fold on last year.
Police chiefs said they are ‘pro-actively patrolling’ areas hit by crime spates in Kent but victims argue more needs to be done.
Anyone who may have seen something suspicious in the area, or who was driving nearby and believes their dash cameras have caught something suspicious, is asked to call police on 01474 366149 quoting 46/6159/21.
You can also contact Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at crimestoppers-uk.org