Victim tells burglars: ‘It’s not what you take but what you leave behind’

Editorial image
Editorial image

One of the many victims of Dacorum’s growing burglary epidemic has spoken out after his home was trashed by callous thieves.

The man, who was working at the time his house in Chambersbury Lane was targeted by crooks, did not wish to be named but said: “We always leave a light on in the house for security reasons.

“My wife came home and saw that all the lights were on and thought I’d been home. But she noticed that the fuse box door was open and soon realised that we’d been burgled. Then she told the children not to go inside the house.

“They didn’t steal very much although they threw lots of stuff around. Mess is not the word to describe it.

“They had every single thing out. Glass was everywhere. They just left with some earrings, a bangle and a small amount of cash.”

Thankfully, the man’s wife and three young children were shopping in Hemel Hempstead town centre at the time of the attack, which occured back in February, but the incident has still left a mark on the family.

The victim added: “It’s not what they take. By the grace of God, I have worked hard to build up what I have and the possessions don’t matter. It’s what they leave behind.

“The misery and the uncertainty, especially when you think your house is covered with security, you think you can go out and it will all be fine.

“I question what would have happened if our teenage children had stayed at home whilst my wife went into town? It could have been even worse.”

This attack is just one of tens to have taken place in Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring in recent months.

In this case, the offenders used a large stone to smash the patio door at the back of the house and searched the property, leaving a trail of mess in their wake.

In other incidents around the borough – which have spiked in recent weeks – opportunist thieves often strike during the day while occupants of the homes are away or working.

The brave victim said he has had some time off work since the burglary, has not left the house unattended and cannot now go to bed until 4am.

He said: “I have young children and any small noise, I’m on edge. I want to protect them.

“The children are sleeping OK and fortunately they don’t really fully know what’s happened, but my wife and I cannot, we’re affected much more by what happened.

“I know I can’t go on like this forever, but for now I have to do it.

“If I was to give a message to the people who did this I’d tell them that, in this country, it’s great. If you work hard you can get money honestly.

“Why upset other people’s families in this way? What are you going to do with what you’ve stolen? It’s not that much and it’ll only last a week.”

While a number of arrests have already been made in connection with some of the Dacorum burglaries, the crimes continue and police are asking people to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.

Det Insp Carolyn Taylder, investigating, said: “The burglaries are occurring during the day, mostly in unoccupied properties and the offenders are mostly going to the back of the house and smashing doors.

“So it is vitally important for people to ring police immediately if the see anyone going to the back of a house or hear the sound of breaking glass.

“It really is a traumatic experience. The victims we talk to don’t think it will ever happen to them but when it does, it can turn their world upside town.

“It’s an invasion of privacy and can have a lasting impact. We want to be able to prevent this from happening to others, and whilst extra police patrols are taking place, I’d urge people to help us and contact us with any reports of suspicious activity, or information about anyone who may be responsible for these crimes.”

The victim himself issued words of warning to anyone who keeps valuables in their home, saying: “The police have been brilliant, very good.

“But they can only do so much. Anyone who keeps jewellery and money at home must stop doing it and find other places to keep it.

“We keep most of ours in the bank. If there weren’t the items to steal then these criminals wouldn’t be successful. We must make it harder for them otherwise it only gives them encouragement.

“They don’t know what they leave behind, the misery and the upset. It’s so upsetting; I just can’t put it into words.”

If you see anything out of the ordinary and you believe a crime may be in progress, dial 999 immediately. Call 101 with other information.