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JustGiving page set up to raise money for Elm Park grandfather who was beaten up by thieves in his home

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 April 2019

Thieves pinned down John Hart and punched him in the head, while they stole his safe from his home in Elm Park. Photo: Shelley Hart

Thieves pinned down John Hart and punched him in the head, while they stole his safe from his home in Elm Park. Photo: Shelley Hart

Sheila Keeling

A JustGiving page has been set up to try and raise money that was stolen when thieves pinned down and beat up an Elm Park grandfather in his home last week.

John Hart was pinned down by thieves and punched repeatedly in the face as they ransacked  his home. Picture: Shelley HartJohn Hart was pinned down by thieves and punched repeatedly in the face as they ransacked his home. Picture: Shelley Hart

Burglars attacked 61-year-old John Hart and punched him in the face as they ripped out a safe containing around £2,000.

John Hart was in his living room on Friday (April 5) afternoon when he heard a noise at his back door, and when he went to see what it was he was attacked by three burglars, one of whom sat on his chest and cracked one of his ribs after beating him up.

Thieves took the safe containing cash, and also stole a watch of sentimental value, that belonged to Mr Hart’s father, and a gold bangle Mr Hart bought for his wife at Christmas.

John’s wife, Shelley Hart, is the chief executive of Havering Volunteer Centre, and says she has been “overwhelmed” by the support the pair have received in the last few days.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel safe anymore. Picture: Shelley HartJohn and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel safe anymore. Picture: Shelley Hart

She said: “There were three nasty people that did this and there has been 300 nice people that have totally outweighed that.

“The amount of love and kindness we have been shown is incredible.

“It shows there are more good people than bad people in this world.

“People have been so shocked after hearing what happened, and we’ve had lots of people ask what they can do to help, and one of our volunteers at the centre, Kelly, came in yesterday and asked what she could do, so she set up the JustGiving page.

“It’s restoring our faith in human nature, and we’ve had lots of people just come and put their arm around John, and tell him its okay, because he has been scared to be in the house by himself at the moment.”

The father-of-two, who is partially deaf, had just come back from hospital and was expecting his wife Sheila to be home soon, as she had told him she was finishing work early.

Mr Hart told the Recorder: “I opened the door and within a second one of the men had run at me and rugby tackled me to the ground.

“We had a wrestle and he ended up being sat on my chest and he punched me.

“He asked me where the safe was, and I said we didn’t have one, and then he said he was going to stab me, and I didn’t think they would, but in that time I think the two other men must have found it, because they came running past when I was on the floor, and they said to get the car started.

“The one sat on me clamped his hands on my mouth and nose and I couldn’t breath.

“They took a set of keys, and tried to steal the car, but they then dumped the keys when they realised they couldn’t get into it.

“Looking back on it, it was scary, but at the time I didn’t think it was, I don’t think it was bravery I was in shock, but I was fighting back.

“Someone came into my house, beat me up and it’s going to cost me money because I’m going to have to change the locks on the car.

“There just isn’t any justice to this.”

The grandfather said he was left with cuts and bruises all over his body, and doctors told him he had a cracked rib after the attack.

Describing his attackers Mr hart said they were all dressed in black, and wearing bandanas, and they all spoke English.

He said one of them was Asian, and the other two he thought were eastern European.

The thieves took the safe containing cash, and also stole a watch that belonged to Mr Hart’s father that had been given to him when he retired after working at Ford’s in Dagenham, and it was engraved with DR Hart, so Shelley is hoping if anyone tries to sell it on it will be picked up.

Along with the watch, they took a gold bangle Mr Hart bought for his wife at Christmas, and although they “ransacked” the home they didn’t take anything else.

“They were clearly after the safe, and it is worrying because it makes it feel like a targeted attack, Were they watching the house? How did they know we had a safe? It’s just not safe anywhere anymore,” added Mrs Hart.

Police confirmed officers are still searching for the thieves and no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting CAD3261/05APR or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

To donate to try and help John and Sheila go to the JustGiving website.

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