Thieves pin down and beat up Elm Park grandfather before ripping out safe containing £2,000 from family home

Thieves pinned down John Hart and punched him in the head, while they stole his safe from his home i

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 - Credit: Sheila Keeling

Burglars pinned down a 61-year-old grandfather and punched him in the face as they ripped a safe containing around £2,000 from his Elm Park home last week.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

John Hart, 61, 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.

The father-of-two 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.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

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


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“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.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

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“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.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

“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 attacked Mr hart said they were all dressed in black, and wearing bandanas, and they all spoke English.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

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.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

“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.

Mr Hart’s wife, Shelley Hart, who runs Havering Volunteer Centre, told the Recorder: “No-one should ever have to experience anything like this in their own home.

“It’s terrifying.”

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

“I think there was about £2,000 in there [the safe] it had our passports, and it had some of our Christmas and birthday money, and the money we were saving to go on holiday.

“He just feels like he should have fought back.

“We feel very, very lucky that he’s alive, I don’t want to think about what could have happened to him.

John and Shelley have lived in their house for 30 years and now the couple have said they don't feel

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 Hart - Credit: Sheila Keeling

“I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him, he must have been terrified.”

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.

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