Harlow's MP is calling for tougher sentencing for criminals exploiting the coronavirus lockdown after a spate of crimes shocked the town.

Thieves last week stole laptop computers and iPads from Latton Green Primary Academy, which was open to teach the children of key workers such as doctors, nurses, and those keeping essential shops open and services running.

A box of vital respirator masks were taken from outside an address in Hollyfield where they were waiting to be picked up by a courier on Friday.

A doctor was mugged on his way to the hospital where he worked last Wednesday, and robbers wearing surgical masks attacked two men queueing in a supermarket on Sunday evening.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who has paid tribute to the hard work of council staff and volunteers during the Covid-19 pandemic, was furious.

He said: "At a time when so many people in our community, our NHS, volunteers, the armed forces, police, teachers and other community and faith organisations are doing so much good and working day and night to help vulnerable people in Harlow, it is so sad to hear of criminals, coming out at night to steal vital NHS equipment, laptops from schools and food from those most in need.

"I will be writing to the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary to call for severe punishments and tougher sentencing for when these sewer rats are caught. They should be put in prison with the key thrown away. The truth is that thieves ignore the coronavirus and the lockdown. We need to be ever vigilant."

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