NHS workers fighting on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic have had their vehicles targeted by thieves outside Darent Valley Hospital.

Four NHS staff members had their catalytic converters stolen in a day whilst they worked shifts at the hospital in Dartford.

A spokesperson for Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust said they were "saddened by the reports" which happened when the staff were busy caring for patients suffering from Covid-19 in one of the country's worst infection hotspots.

"This was certainly the last thing they needed to find after a long shift, when all they wanted to do was go home and rest!"

Instead, they left to find their vehicles, which had been parked in the hospital's staff car park, stripped of their catalytic converters and damaged.

CCTV is being checked to see if the thefts were captured, and the incidents have been reported to the police.

The hospital said they would, however, like to raise staff and public awareness to assist with crime prevention.

"The Trust has made a significant investment to improve the external CCTV camera system and the security teams make regular patrols, however catalytic converters can be removed in minutes.

"We urge all car owners to remain vigilant and to make contact immediately with both Saba, our Car Parking operators and the police if they are a victim of this offence onsite or if they see or hear anything which causes them concern, such as a suspicious vehicle or activity."

Advice for motorists

• In general, park your vehicle so as to prevent access underneath

• If parking in a public car park, consider parking alongside other cars and facing you bonnet towards the wall. With the catalytic converter positioned at the front of your vehicle, this will make it harder for thieves to get close enough to steal it

• Where possible, park your vehicle in a locked garage, as close to your home as possible or in a parking spot overlooked by residents. If you park your car on the drive overnight, consider installing CCTV and security lights

• Avoid parking your vehicle half on the pavement and half on the road, as this can make it easier for thieves to access the catalytic converter

• When parking in public areas, opt for ‘Park Mark’ accredited car parks as these have CCTV as part of the accreditation

• Consider installing a Thatcham approved alarm to your vehicle. Ones that activate if the vehicle is lifted or tilted are particularly effective

• Consider using a catalytic converter protection device or marking system approved by www.securedbydesign.com.

• Some vehicle manufacturers/dealers sell locking devices for Catalytic Converters