AN URGENT hunt is on to find a stolen piece of medical equipment containing lethal radiation.

Police fear for the health of anyone handling the organ monitoring equipment and say it poses a major risk to pregnant women and their unborn children.

The BLA printer, used to take readings of patients' major org-ans, was taken from a doctor's car while it was parked in a West End street.

The £5,000 machine - rarely used in the UK - looks like a harmless computer till but exp-erts say that once tampered with it will contaminate anyone who touches it with leaking radiation.

A police spokeswoman warned anyone who has the machine or finds it dumped to stay away from it and contact them as soon as possible.

She said: "We are currently making inquiries with Guy's Hos-pital to find out about this mach-ine and the type of radiation it contains.

"We do know that it is particular dangerous to pregnant women and their foetuses, to whom it presents an extreme risk."

The monitor had recently been purchased by a woman doctor from London who had left it in her green Renault Clio parked in Wessex Way while she visited a friend nearby.

Thieves broke into the car on Friday night or early Saturday morning and took the machine in its black leather pilot's bag.

It is described as white, 18 inches by 12 inches, with a slit that looks as if a paper receipt will come out of it.

Electrodes in the machine are connected to a patient to take readings of the major organs of the body.

Clothing, chocolate, wine and vitamin supplements were also taken in the theft.

Police are appealing for anyone with any knowledge of the break in or who finds the machine to contact them immediately on 0845 045 45 45.