Items have been stolen from the chapel at the University Hospital of North Durham in what police have described as a "breach of trust".
The thief, or thieves, struck overnight between Thursday and Friday, and took a number of soft toys which had been left by bereaved families.
A 2ft high brass plated cross and its plinth were also removed.
A Durham Police spokesman branded the thefts "despicable", and urged anyone with information to get in touch.
A spokesman for the Durham force said: "The chapel exists as a facility to help those in situations of bereavement or great stress, and of necessity it is kept open at all times.
"Someone has breached that trust."