A WOMAN’S handbag has been stolen as she lay unconscious in bed in York Hospital.

Brenda Scott, 74, from Acomb, was in hospital with breathing problems when her bag containing her purse and jewellery disappeared on January 14.

The theft has been described as “truly disgraceful” by North Yorkshire Police, who are appealing for information.

Jo Stone, her daughter, said: “The thing that upsets me is that someone has gone into her room when she was unconscious. If they were that way inclined they could have done anything to my mum.

“It made me absolutely livid. I was hurt, not just to think they took her bag, but that they could have hurt her while she was in that hospital room.”

She added that while her mother had signed a disclaimer taking responsibility for her own belongings, she had not been well enough to look after them.

Ms Stone has appealed for the return of the navy-blue long-handled shoulder bag containing a purse and two 18-inch gold chain necklaces, one with a gold ring with a St Christopher outline inside and another with an SOS tag.

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said: “Targeting hospital patients when they are at their most vulnerable is truly disgraceful and we urge anyone who has any information to contact the police as soon as possible.

"Hospitals are busy public buildings and we appreciate patients cannot keep their belongings with them at all times, but we urge people to keep the risk of theft to a minimum by only taking essential items with them and keeping as close to them as possible.”

A spokeswoman for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said the numbers of crimes at the hospital has dropped in recent years with 81 in 2012 and 48 in 2013. There have been three crimes on the site so far this year, including the theft.

They said: “We are really sad to hear that this has happened on our premises. We aim to provide a safe and secure place for staff, visitors and patients, and thankfully thefts are rare.

“Crime on the site is falling overall, however we can never fully eliminate the risk of theft due to the high number of people coming to the hospital every day, and we would advise patients to avoid bringing valuables with them in to the hospital wherever possible.”

Last year, The Press reported how thieves stole a camera containing pictures of a couple’s newborn daughter from York Hospital’s maternity ward.

Jack Galvin, from Acomb, and Laura Wilson, from Skelton, welcomed their daughter Rosie into the world at York Hospital in June, and spent the evening and following day taking pictures of her.

The purple Samsung camera was next to Laura’s bed, but when they returned from bathing Rosie it had disappeared.

Anyone who can assist the investigation is asked to phone North Yorkshire Police on 101.