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Balaclava burglars tie up Gainford pensioner, 71, and rob him of jewellery
POLICE are hunting burglars who broke into the County Durham home of a 71-year-old man, tied him up and then escaped with jewellery and silverware.
The incident happened at around 9pm last Thursday, October 10, but was not reported until the following day.
Two men wearing balaclavas forced their way into the victim’s home, a large detached property in Gainford, between Barnard Castle and Darlington.
They then tied up the pensioner and left him in the kitchen, before searching the premises and making off with various items.
These include a pair of candelabra, ornaments including wooden elephants and glass figurines, several antique gold pocket watches, a silver plated inkwell and a collection of commemorative coins and medals.
The total value of the haul is still being assessed but is likely to be at least several thousand pounds.
At half-past ten on Friday morning a friend of the victim called round to the house and found him in the kitchen, still bound.
After the emergency services were contacted he was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital for treatment to his wrists, which had been left badly swollen by the material used to bind him but he was otherwise unhurt.
A CCTV camera covers the property and part of the surrounding area, and police have released a number of images showing the men as they made their way to the house.
One was wearing an Army-style camouflage jacket, the other was wearing a dark body warmer.
“We believe the victim was deliberately targeted by these men, who we think would have been in the house for around anything up to or above two hours,” said Det Con Sunil Weerasinghe.
“Although the property is set in its own grounds we are hoping other residents in the village may have noticed a vehicle in the area which would not normally be there, or even the men themselves heading to or from the property.”
Canon Neil Russell, a retired priest who lives in the village, said it was a shocking crime, but sadly one consistent with the modern age.
He said: "Sadly, these days you cannot say there is anywhere where this kind of thing cannot happen.
"It is very sad in a small community like this where everyone knows and supports each other, people are bound to be shocked.
"The sad fact is it is part and parcel of modern life that people use violence against ordinary people who have no way of protecting themselves."
Mr Russell also said he feared the victim, a man who he claimed kept himself to himself, may feel even more vulnerable now.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the serious crime team at Bishop Auckland via 101, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.
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