The thieves who stole Christmas at Great Ormond St: Presents destined for sick children stolen from Great Ormond Street Hospital

Long-standing donor replaces children’s gifts taken from world-famous hospital

Detectives are tonight examining CCTV footage at Great Ormond Street Hospital to try to identify thieves who stole 20 Christmas presents for seriously ill children staying in intensive care.

The presents, which had been bought using the hospital’s charity fund, were stored in sacks in an area of the hospital not used by the public, said Scotland Yard. Police declined to say if a staff access card would have been needed to reach the area where the gifts, which included games consoles and portable DVD players, were being kept.

Inspector Neal Anderson said: “To steal presents that were supposed to be for children too sick to be at home with their families at Christmas is beyond belief. I would also urge the thief to try and think about their actions and do the decent thing and return them.”

The gifts were stolen between Friday and today. A long-standing donor to the hospital replaced the gifts as individuals and businesses contacted the hospital to offer to replace them.

“We have been overwhelmed by generous offers from individuals and companies to replace the missing items,” the hospital said in a statement.

The central London hospital, which has more than 200,000 patient visits each year and is the largest centre for paediatric research outside the US, is covered by a good-quality computer-linked security camera system installed over the past 18 months to ensure child safety, according to experts.

The system, covering entrances and patient areas, has some of the most high-resolution commercial cameras currently in operation.

It is prioritised to focus on protecting children, however, making it less likely that the thief would have been caught in the act of taking the gifts from a cupboard where the presents were believed to have been stored in a private part of the hospital.

“With any CCTV system, if you want to look at everything all the time you would need thousands of cameras,” said Carl Pace, the managing director of Check Your Security, which carried out an audit of hospital’s CCTV systems.

“You have got to have priorities where you put security, whether catching someone pulling some money out of a vending machine or whether you safeguard children coming into the hospital. Great Ormond Street has one of the best systems around at the moment.”

The hospital was set up in 1852 and celebrated its 160th anniversary this year. Its work was highlighted during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, when many of its young patients and staff took part in a sequence that paid tribute to the National Health Service.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower