Harold Wood couple lose life savings in distraction burglary

Callous thieves stole the life savings of an ill elderly couple – including money they had set aside for their funerals – from their Harold Wood home in a distraction burglary last week.

On Tuesday (May 3), Patricia Ives, 75, who suffers from chronic lung disease, answered her front door in Waterside Close to a man who claimed to be from the water board.

He said he was fixing a leak in her neighbour’s house and needed to turn down the water pressure in the Ives’ house.

Once inside, the thief threw water along the inside of a wall to give the appearance that there was a leak from the next house.

While the pretend plumber worked in her kitchen, Mrs Ives believes another crook gained entry to the house and went upstairs without being noticed. Later she realised their rooms had been ransacked.

Mrs Ives said: “They turned the drawers over and the wardrobes had been opened. My husband lost �500 in his bedroom and I had �10,000 stolen.

“I had �4,000 towards our funeral costs. I had money for bills, Christmas money for our grandchildren – all of our savings. It’s taken years and years for me to put this money together.”

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Her husband Gordon, 80, has vision and heart problems as well as trouble walking. The couple have lost thousands of pounds.

Mrs Ives said: “I hate them for what they’ve done to me. I can’t eat properly, I can’t concentrate on anything. I keep beating myself up about it because it’s my fault I let him in. I’m walking about like a zombie.”

Her daughter Jackie Twigg, 39, from Hornchurch said that the theft has devastated the family.

She said: “Normally she wouldn’t let anybody into the house. He must’ve seemed quite genuine. Now everybody just feels so helpless, there’s nothing we can do. She’s really worried what’s going to happen when she passes away. It’s so horrible I’m lost for words, I don’t know how these people sleep at night.”

Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call Havering Police on 0300 123 12 12.

Police advise residents of the following:

-There is no organisation called The Water Board any more, so if anyone claims to be from it they are lying.

-Do not let anyone into your home without an appointment, it is not being rude, it is being safe.

-Do not keep large amounts of money at home.

-When someone comes to your door, check their identification card and call the company they say they are from to check that they are genuine.

-Residents can contact their Safer Neighbourhoods Team and can arrange a visit to be given a home security check free of charge.

-Census Collectors are currently knocking on residents doors, but will only call if you have not completed a form. They will not ask for any personal information other than confirm your name, age and date of birth, and won’t ask to come into your home.