Thefts of medical equipment and personal belongings are a phenomenon in hospitals around the country, but in Haifa the problem has grown into an "epidemic," reports www.mynet.co.il. With hundreds of thefts reported every year of items ranging from medicines and hospital equipment to patients' personal possessions and even food, security staff are finding themselves in a daily - and mostly fruitless - battle to find the thieves and recover the stolen objects. According to the report, 237 thefts were reported at Rambam Hospital in 2008 and 110 have been reported there so far this year. At the Carmel Hospital, 220 thefts were reported last year, although there have been just 80 so far this year. The report said it was believed that many more thefts took place than were actually reported. It also said that thieves did not confine their activities to the wards, but also took advantage of hospital shops, stealing items such as toys and sunglasses. A Carmel Hospital spokesman said the most commonly stolen items were mobile telephones and wallets or purses. The report said the thefts were taking place despite elaborate security systems. At Rambam Hospital, there were uniformed and undercover guards in all departments, security cameras, and "other measures." At Carmel Hospital, 13 guards patrolled all departments and 70 security cameras had been set up. There were no suggestions as to how security measures could be improved.