A £55,000 scanner stolen from a hospital has been found two years later thanks to some detective work by a computer expert.

The portable machine was grabbed by thieves from the heart department at Worthing Hospital in December 2010 and staff thought they would never see it again.

But it was returned to the hospital this week when it ended up in the hands of a local man who realised its significance.

Hospital staff believed the machine had been taken because it had been mistaken for a laptop.

The scanner is used to take pictures of the inside of the heart and help medics assess a patient’s condition.

Because it is portable, the machine can be used to monitor patients in the hospital’s intensive care and high dependency units.

The man who found it, who wished to stay anonymous, used to run a computer shop and is still approached by people asking for advice.

Laptop mistake

He said: “Someone came up to me with this machine last weekend and asked if there was any way that it could be charged up.

“I took a look and realised that it wasn’t a laptop but something a bit more complex.

“He left it with me when I said it would not be of any use to anyone.

“I checked it out on the internet and realised it was something that was used for medical reasons.

“I gave the hospital a call on the Monday to say I had it. Luckily there was a serial number on it and when they checked the records, they found it was one that had been stolen.”

Hospital cardiac manager Stephen Copeland said: “We gave up hoping that we would get this piece of equipment back a long time ago, so we were amazed when it was returned to us.

“It was incredibly frustrating that someone would take such a valuable, and useful, scanner in the first place.

“Because so much time has passed, we cannot immediately bring it back into use around the hospital, but with luck it will still be functional.”

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