File photograph. / SUR

Worker at Costa del Sol hospital arrested after a series of thefts from patients and staff

He had been working there for nearly a year and is accused of having taken jewellery, clothes and cash

IRENE QUIRANTE Malaga

Gold bracelets, expensive clothes and wallets containing large amounts of cash. Those are some of the items which police suspect an employee at a Marbella hospital of stealing from patients and staff. The 38-year-old has now been arrested in connection with around a dozen such thefts.

The investigation began in June last year after a relative of a patient reported that a wallet containing 700 euros had gone missing after he left his room for a few moments.

That was the first sign that something was wrong, and officers soon discovered that it had not been an isolated incident. In fact, reports of thefts from the same hospital have kept coming, until very recently. So far there have been 12, and it is possible that there will be more.

One was from the widow of a nurse who died in the hospital, who told them she couldn’t find a gold wristband that her husband had been wearing when he was admitted.

Most of the theft victims were patients. When someone is admitted to the hospital in Marbella, the protocol is that their belongings are put into a plastic bag, although it stays with them throughout their stay. The employee is believed to have chosen his moment when the patients were temporarily in another part of the building to steal the items.

He is also suspected of having stolen from the staff changing rooms, including the women’s. The police have ascertained that the thefts always took place on the days when he was on duty.

Another clue that led the officers to suspect this particular employee is that on seven occasions he sold pieces of jewellery with different inscriptions and names to a shop that buys gold in Malaga.

He has been working at the hospital for about one year, and the police say they can’t rule out the possibility that he committed similar thefts elsewhere, as he has worked at other hospitals in the province in the past.