There has been a surge in the number of reported vehicle crimes at or near to two major south London Hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.

The report, prepared by LeaseCar, gathered data on reported vehicle crimes in the postcodes of some of London's major hospitals during 2020 from the UK Crime Stats website. 

It found massive increases from the previous year at two of the major hospitals south of the Thames, as hospitals across the capital faced unprecedented demands on their services amid the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic and the influx of patients it brought.

St Thomas' Hospital in south London saw the number of vehicle crimes leap up 74 per cent from December 2018-19 to December 2019-20, rising from 24 to 52 over the period.

King's College Hospital meanwhile faced an even higher increase of crimes committed of 81.93, jumping from 49 in December 2018-2019 to 117 in 2020.

The LeaseCar report suggested that the nature of driving to hospital with other concerns a priority naturally put car users at greater risk:

"The past year saw many people struggle with physical and mental health, money, job security and isolation from family, meaning vehicle security was not a top priority for most.

"With the nature of hospitals, many visitors are more concerned about the upcoming proceedings than the security of their car, which makes them more vulnerable to criminals," a summary of the report's findings read.

"It’s unfortunate that the research found that during these difficult times so many people have been subject to the stress of being a victim of a car crime," a spokesperson added.

"Hospitals can be safe havens for many people, where they go to receive help and therefore many forget that it is also a hub for crime, with criminals preying on people at their most vulnerable.

"By ensuring people are following basic safety measures vehicles can be more secure and less likely to be attempted by criminals," they added.

Certain simple steps like ensuring you have a working car alarm fitted, parking in well-lit areas and not leaving any valuables visible were all suggested by the authors of the report for people to take when parking nearby hospitals.

Elsewhere in London, there was more positive news, with vehicle crime down near a number of other major hospitals during 2020 including Chelsea and Westminster (-52 per cent), St Guy's Hospital (-69.57 per cent) and University College Hospital in Bloomsbury (-98 per cent).