THE FAMILY of a stroke patient whose dead husband's gold rings were stolen from her fingers while she lay vulnerable in a Bradford hospital bed have condemned the thief as "lowest of all low-life".
An anonymous well-wisher has now offered a £5,000 reward for the return of Lily Hartley's husband's gold wedding band and black onyx signet ring, which she has worn since he died 14 years ago.
The 87-year-old grandma from Eccleshill was admitted on to Ward 9 at Bradford Royal Infirmary on Sunday after suffering a stroke which has robbed her of movement on her left side.
Her family took some of her jewellery home but left the rings on because Mrs Hartley did not want to part with them.
A couple of days later, a visiting relative noticed the rings were missing and reported it to hospital staff, who alerted police.
Neither of the two rings have inscriptions on them. The couple, who had three children, would have been married 64 years ago last week if Mr Hartley was still living. In a post on her Facebook page, granddaughter Emma Hartley, from Wilsden, published an earlier photograph of her grandma’s rings she took as proof in hospital just in case the unthinkable happened and they were stolen.
Miss Hartley said: “We are now offering a £5,000 reward on the safe return of these rings, which has been offered by a very kind anonymous donor".
"While in Bradford Royal Infirmary and vulnerable, some low-life has stolen my grandma’s rings off her fingers! These rings, the wedding ring and signet ring have huge sentimental value to my grandma,and belonged to my grandad. She has worn them since the day he died. We’ve had 3,000 shares so far on Facebook but no leads. We believe the gentleman who has offered the reward is genuine. He has been messaging us lots asking for updates. The same thing happened to a relative of his and it sickened him."
Miss Hartley said her grandma had been a caring woman all her life and would be heartbroken if she knew the rings had been stolen from her.
"She has been asking us about the rings and I’ve had to tell her that I’ve got them safe. She’d be heartbroken if she knew the truth."
The family is urging people to be on the lookout for the rings which they fear could be offered for sale to pawn brokers or on online auction sites to make easy money. She said: "If anyone sees these rings for sale, has any information whatsoever or gets offered these rings please let us know through the police."
Mrs Hartley’s family said they have been told there is no CCTV on the ward to help police with their investigation, but said they were informed there had been other thefts from the same ward in the same week.
"It seems it’s rife. We were told there had been other belongings stolen on the ward that week. I also overheard nurses the other night when I was leaving that a £20 note had gone missing. Whoever has taken these rings are the lowest of all low-life. It’s not the money value of the rings that is important to us, it’s the sentimental value. We desperately want them back. When you leave loved ones in hospital, you put all your trust and confidence in staff that they will be looked after so we have all been shaken by this," said Miss Hartley.
She added: "We want people to know this is a problem and all precious and sentimental jewellery should be taken home."