War veteran’s home raided by thieves

Medals discovered ‘dumped’ by bins after home ransacked.

AN 87-year-old decorated war veteran who flew daring sorties over Germany in the Second World War has had his home ransacked by thieves.

The Barnstaple pensioner, the only surviving member of his Lancaster Bomber Unit, received medals in recognition of his bravery as an 18-year-old rear gunner, some of which were discovered discarded by a wheelie bin following the break-in on Saturday night.

The widower, who lives alone and has asked not to be named, returned to a scene of devastation on Sunday morning after spending the night away.

Burglars forced a rear kitchen window and smashed five internal doors to search every room of the Newport home, scattering personal items to the floor, including many of his military service photographs and memorabilia.

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The shocked pensioner told the Gazette: “They trashed the place; whoever did it was obviously looking for money and anything they could sell quickly.

“I came in and the cat greeted me, which I thought was odd as he shouldn’t have been at home.

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“When I went into the dining room all the drawers had been taken out and there was stuff all over the floor. I went upstairs and it was the same in every room up there.

“I looked in the cupboard but couldn’t find my medals and I was upset at the thought they might had been taken.

“The place was such a mess it was difficult to tell but thankfully one of the police officers found them under a wheelie bin outside.

“They probably thought they’d take them and then changed their mind because they wouldn’t be able to get rid of them.

“I suppose they must be pretty desperate for drugs or something to do such a thing. They were obviously looking for money but they couldn’t find any because there isn’t any.”

Instead, three flat-screen televisions were stolen and detectives have launched an investigation to find those responsible.

DC Noel Bourke said: “This was a callous crime which targeted an 87-year-old war veteran.

“Those responsible thought nothing of stealing medals honouring his achievements but fortunately these were recovered discarded near to the house and returned to this gentleman.

“I hope that the nature of this offence will prompt people who may have information to come forward, or it may even prick the consciences of the offenders to hand themselves in or at the very least return the televisions.”

The victim, who was a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for 10 years, said he had never been burgled before.

He added: “I’ve never worried about being in the house on my own but I would be very much more concerned now. I don’t feel as safe as I did.”

His son, who we have also agreed not to name, said he was upset and concerned for his father.

“It’s sad to think that someone obviously knew he wasn’t at home and decided to target an elderly gentleman,” he said.

“I can’t help but take it personally because I’m proud of my dad and what he’s done. It’s a sad thing to have happened.”

It is thought that the crime might be linked to a burglary at a neighbouring property, in which a garden shed was broken into, and property including fishing rods, a mountain bike and a Bosch chainsaw were stolen.

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