Police accused over failure to investigate theft

PUBLISHED: 12:14 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 06 May 2010

POLICE say they can take no action against a thief who stole debit card details from an elderly woman in hospital shortly before she died. Mrs Rose Donnelly, aged 82, of Fiveacres, London Colney went into Hemel Hempstead Hospital on May 22 after suffering

POLICE say they can take no action against a thief who stole debit card details from an elderly woman in hospital shortly before she died.

Mrs Rose Donnelly, aged 82, of Fiveacres, London Colney went into Hemel Hempstead Hospital on May 22 after suffering a heart attack and stayed there until her death on June 2.

Her granddaughter Louise Garden, of Newhouse Park, St Albans, said: "When we went to Gran's house we found letters from various firms containing receipts for stuff she was supposed to have bought while she was in hospital."

The purchases included basketball boots and items from an Ann Summers shop - all unlikely to have been bought by an elderly lady."

Louise realised the receipts showed the items - all purchased online -- had been sentto a named person at a Hemel Hempstead address.

She passed the information onto the police only to be told that it was up to the bank to recover the money because it was their loss.

A spokesperson for the police said: "As far as we are concerned no crime has been committed unless and until the bank inform us of the loss. We have spoken to the family and urged them to encourage the bank to contact us. Until then our hands are tied."

Louise said: "No-one seems interested. When I contacted the hospital, one person said they couldn't do anything unless the police took action and the police say it's down to the bank.

"What concerns us is that this person, who may well work at the hospital, may be preying on other vulnerable people in hospital."

Mrs Donnelly took her valuables into hospital with her on the advice of ambulance personnel.

But a relative took her cash and debit card home for safekeeping around four days into Mrs Donnelly's hospital stay.

That is why the family believes that someone copied the debit card details so they could use them to buy goods online.

A spokesperson for the West Herts Hospitals Trust said they had been notified of a potential allegation concerning a member of staff and took such allegations very seriously. When all the information was available they would take the appropriate action, she added.

A Barclay's Bank spokesperson said: "We have done our best to assist this poor lady's family by refunding the money stolen from her account but it is beyond our remit to carry out an investigation into the identity of the thief. Surely the police must be proactive in this matter. We have a dedicated team who will be happy to help them with their inquiries if they approach us."

But he later added that he will fax all the details they have to hand over to Herts Police.

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