A heartless thief who stole a woman's wedding and engagement rings moments after she died in hospital is being hunted by police.
Her grieving husband was left "distressed" after he spotted items worth a combined £13,500 were missing from her hands.
Essex Police said that the woman, who was aged in her 80s, was admitted to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow after an accidental fall at her home on March 6.
She died three days later with her husband by her side, the force said.
When he returned to the ward to collect her personal items he noticed that the rings were missing.
Police said that the rings were on the woman's hand when she was admitted to hospital and they were never removed during any treatment.
Pc Daniel Burns, of Harlow local policing team, said: "These two rings are very special to the husband as they were both engagement and wedding rings and were bought for her in America.
"The total combined value of both these rings was 19,000 US dollars, which equates to approximately £13,500.
"The husband is, of course, incredibly distressed and upset by this.
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"We are looking to speak to anyone who might have any information on the whereabouts of these rings or if anyone has attempted to sell them on."
Sharon McNally, director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said: "We offer our deepest condolences on the family's loss and we are extremely concerned regarding this distressing incident.
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"We are supporting Essex Police with their investigation and encourage anyone with information to contact them."
Anyone with information on the rings is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
In January a brazen thief was caught on police camera footage stealing from an injured elderly woman outside a bank.
Jay Makwana, of Northumberland Park, Erith, was sentenced six years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery at Woolrich Crown Court on Wednesday, January 6.
The incident happened as police officers responded to a report of an 81-year-old injured woman in Market Place in Bexleyheath.
In the police bodyworn footage, Makwana is seen staying by the pensioner's side and answering to the police.
He then steals the woman's purse, which contained £200 cash inside, puts it into a carrier bag and leaves the scene.
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