Hospital thieves blended in with staff

Patients were targeted by trio of thieves at as many as six Lower Mainland hospitals

A ring of thieves is thought to have preyed on patients in as many as six Lower Mainland hospitals, including Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian.

One suspect was recently arrested and two others are under investigation after staff at Vancouver General Hospital spotted them June 2 and alerted security.

A description had previously been circulated after the trio were seen at other sites, including B.C. Cancer Agency facilities, wearing hospital scrubs and stolen ID to blend in with staff.

That tactic isn’t entirely unusual, according to John Acorn, director of operations for the Lower Mainland health authorities’ Integrated Protection Services.

“I’ve seen individuals trying to blend in,” he said. “What makes this one a little bit more unique is we were able to confirm multiple people working in concert.

“Rarely have we seen this kind of organized or targeted theft in our environment.”

Typically, Acorn said, thefts from hospital are relatively uncommon and, when they happen, tend to be crimes of opportunity involving small, easily concealed items, such as wallets, small electronics and jewelry.

He credited staff for spotting the intruders and reminded patients and visitors not to bring valuables to the hospital and to report any suspicious behaviour.

The main suspect had 52 outstanding offences, including a Canada-wide warrant, while the other two are known to police.