The family of a fragile B.C. senior with dementia is stunned after learning that a thief ripped a diamond ring cherished off her hand while she lay in hospital.

Grace Marriott, an 88-year-old from Delta, B.C. was admitted to Surrey Memorial Hospital last week. She was wearing, as she always does, the diamond cluster ring that her now-deceased husband gave her on her 50th birthday.

Marriott's family had tried to remove the ring when the ambulance arrived to take her to hospital but her grandson James Pont said they couldn’t because her hands were swollen.

“The ring was tight on her finger so without doing damage to her hand, there was no way to get the ring off at the time,” Pont told CTV Vancouver.

But a thief found a way. Over the weekend, a man entered Marriott’s hospital room and told the nurse he was the Marriott’s grandson.

“Once the nurse went about her routine, that’s when he proceeded to pry the ring off Granny's finger,” Pont said.

“You’ve got to be pretty low to be doing something like this,” he added.

The thief pulled the ring off so hard, he left deep purple bruises on Marriott's finger.

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake has heard about the incident and told reporters Thursday that he found it “disgusting” that someone would do that to a vulnerable patient in hospital.

RCMP were called in to investigate, but they don’t have much to go on. Marriott has dementia and has not been able to provide much information.

“Due to her dementia, she doesn't remember. So we don’t want to cause her extra grief or stress in the hospital,” Pont said.

The surveillance cameras were not much help either because they were placed at such an angle that all they captured was the top of the suspect’s head, Pont said.

He thinks thieves would stay away if Surrey Memorial had more properly positioned cameras in the wards as well as in the elevators, entrances and exits.

Tasleem Juma, a spokesperson for Fraser Health, which manages the hospital, said her organization takes security “very seriously” and is investigating.

“We do have security measures in place -- cameras, security guards, our staff are trained to be aware and to keep an eye out,” she said.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson