HILLSIDE residents could mount their own patrols to keep an eye on Sunnyside Hospital once the site closes for good later this month.
At last week’s Montrose Community Council meeting Constable George Abbot said local police are giving the hospital as much attention as possible, but he believes there is a group of Hillside people willing to keep an eye on the buildings specifically and liaise with local officers.
There have been calls for NHS Tayside to tighten security around the buildings following several high value thefts over the last 18 months, with £10,000 worth of copper stolen from the old laundry building in the latest incident in October.
Locals fear that, with the price of copper soaring, it could be open season among criminals to strip the listed buildings of fixtures and fittings once facilities are moved to a new-build psychiatric unit at Stracathro Hospital.
Last November a one-ton copper water tank was taken from one building, while three months before more than two tons of copper piping, worth around £8,000, were taken from the empty Carnegie Clinic building.
The health authority was criticised at the time when it emerged that the theft was undiscovered for two months and the items could have been taken any time between the beginning of June and the start of August.
Constable Abbot said: “It’s a big problem at Sunnyside and we’ve been looking at it for more than a year.
“I believe there’s a group in Hillside willing to go out and keep an eye on it and report anything to us. We also have lots of patrols around there during the night and I believe a security firm is also being employed.”
Constable Abbot added that NHS Tayside is considering using Smart Water - a coded liquid which can be read under an ultra violet light - to mark its property.
This week Councillor David May said he has arranged a meeting with NHS Tayside to discuss its future plans for securing the buildings.
He said: “I’m delighted they’re doing this. The possibilities of how the hospital could be ruined by these thefts is quite considerable.”