AN ELDERLY memorabilia collector is battling to get part of his prized collection back after thieves sneaked into his home and stole thousands of pounds of rare items.

The 85-year-old man, of Easingwold, North Yorkshire, said at least 16 artefacts, many of which originate from the 68th Durham Light Infantry, were taken from his house between Saturday, January 12 and Wednesday, January 31.

The items, some of which date to the early 19th century and are understood to be worth at least £4,000, are part of a huge collection which the man has amassed since the early 1970s.

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Police said there was no sign of a forced entry to the victim’s home and that the stolen memorabilia was wrapped in tissue and had been stored in a shoebox.

PC Adam Gatenby urged collectors, pawnbrokers and dealers to keep an eye out for the stolen items, which include an 1878 68th Regiment officer’s helmet plate, a Sligo Artillery gilt QVC, and a Royal Artillery QVC gilt Sabertache badge.

He said: “The owner of the military pieces is shocked and upset by this theft. They are extremely precious to him and hold great sentimental value.

“He has been collecting the pieces, which are his prized possessions, for over 40 years and would greatly welcome their return.

“The items which have been stolen are rare, so selling them for a good price could only be achieved at specialist dealerships. They are also rare enough to stand out if they were to be sold to a pawnbroker.”

Anyone who can help officers to locate the memorabilia is urged to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800-555-111.