‘Then we realised we had been robbed while I was giving birth’
Patients warned not to bring smart phones to hospitals after couple robbed
Jill Leonard and Adrian O’Connor from Ennis, Co Clare, with their baby Kane O’Connor. Photograph: Eamon Ward
Jill Leonard and Adrian O’Connor had just welcomed their new son Kane into the world but their joy was marred somewhat by an unwelcome surprise.
When Jill was in the delivery room giving birth to her new 9lb 6oz baby, a thief was rifling through her personal belongings back on the ward, before making off with her purse and smart phone.
“It certainly changed the day for us unfortunately. I felt sick, it’s hard to even talk about it,” said a clearly upset Ms Leonard.
“When we came back to the ward from the delivery room Adrian noticed after a while that a few things were gone – my phone, my wallet with everything in it. And then we realised we had been robbed at the time that I was giving birth.”
The HSE said while it could not comment on individual cases, it confirmed the incident had occurred. In a statement it said it could not discuss security arrangements for fear those measures would be compromised but said the theft was now a Garda matter.
“In common with every major hospital in the country we strongly discourage patients from bringing valuables – cash, cards, and smartphones with them,” its statement said.
Mr O’Connor said he believed other thefts had occurred at the hospital of late and that his family’s case was not an isolated incident.
“We’ve obviously been speaking to the staff about it and we rang the gardaí and made a report and it seemed that there had been other cases like this in the hospital the last while.”
Ms Leonard, who was overdue, had gone to the hospital on Friday afternoon and after settling into a ward was taken for a Caesarean section resulting in the safe delivery of baby Kane at 8pm.
After returning to the ward and looking for her phone to contact friends and family she realised what had happened.
The 32-year-old gave birth to her eldest son Jack (2½) in her native US before moving to Ireland with husband Adrian two years ago, settling in Co Clare where he is from.
The couple run the Black Umbrella Photography company, based in Ennis, a fact that Ms Leonard said heightened her fears when she realised thieves had struck. “I had my own personal bank cards and the company bank cards in the wallet that was taken. There was also the company banking details and there would have been other details to work out where we lived and the fact that we have cameras and other equipment.”
She said while being robbed as she gave birth to her son was a very unpleasant and upsetting experience, it had not coloured her view of Ireland. “This could happen anywhere, not just Ireland.”