Sick children's gifts stolen after thieves target University Hospital of North Staffordshire
THIEVES have wrecked a hospital playroom and stolen presents donated by Stoke City players for poorly children.
Computer games and equipment – some of which were donated by the Potters stars last week – were taken from the Children's Centre at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
The yobs also damaged furniture and tore down Christmas decorations made by children, many of whom are seriously ill.
Hospital staff have condemned the 'sickening' crime, which happened overnight on Sunday. The damage and lost equipment will cost £1,000 to put right.
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Sister Julianne Wilkes said: "To have someone steal all of the games and other equipment in the run up to Christmas is sickening.
"The games consoles were not taken as they are screwed into the secure unit, but they are worthless without any of the games and controllers. The theft is upsetting, but these items may be replaced by generous donations. What can't be replaced is the time and effort that our poorly children put in to make the play room feel Christmassy."
The 'Adolescent Room', which is used by patients aged between six and 16, is one of two playrooms in the centre. It was closed on Monday while police examined the scene.
It is not clear how the thieves got in to the Children's Centre, as there was no evidence of forced entry.
Ms Wilkes said: "Although the centre is a locked down area, we haven't previously locked the playroom itself because we want the children to be able to come and go. This is something we might have to do in the future."
Stoke stars including Cameron Jerome, Kenwyne Jones and Michael Owen took a tour of the children's wards last Monday.
They handed out Christmas vouchers to patients and their families, as well as donating gifts for the playroom.
Lynette Barlow, deputy manager for the UHNS Charity, appealed for help to replace the stolen equipment, much of which had been paid for by patients' families.
She said: "I'm really saddened that this equipment has been stolen. You could see the smiles on the children's faces when they were playing the games against the Stoke City footballers. If anyone would like to donate some Playstation, Wii or Xbox games before Christmas, we would be eternally grateful."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "An investigation has been launched and we would appeal for witnesses to come forward."
Anyone with information should call on 101.