A SON has been left devastated after thieves ransacked his home and stole more than £30,000 worth of valuables belonging to his late mother.

Patrick Dowd is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who carried out the raid in West Auckland on Saturday, March 15, between 7.45pm and 12.15pm.

Together with his family, he had been enjoying a party in Bishop Auckland while he believes up to five people were breaking into his home.

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The stolen haul includes more than 100 pieces of Crown Derby china, a gold bracelet and American dollar antique gold earrings, all of which belonged to Mr Dowd’s mother Nancy, who died last July.

A quantity of cash was also taken.

Mr Dowd believes the thieves knew what they were looking for.

“This is the next worst feeling after losing my mother,” he said. “It is not about the monetary value, these things were her pride and joy. They were very sentimental items to us.

“I think about it all the time. I never imagined in my life this would ever happen. It would have been her 81st birthday this Friday.

“She used to enjoy looking at her collections. She would even joke if she left the house she couldn’t be long as she didn’t want anyone burgling the house.”

The family believe the thieves broke in at the rear of the property and had a van or a large car with them. They used bedding from the house to wrap the stolen items in.

Mr Dowd said they have changed the locks as the front door key was taken and they are still in the process of repairing the damage caused.

DS Graham Low, of the Bishop Auckland serious crime team, said: "I would appeal directly to the person or persons responsible for this burglary to come forward, the items, as well as having a substantial monetary value have a sentimental value to the victim and he is desperate for the items to be returned.

“Anyone who may have been offered these items for sale is asked to call us immediately."

Witnesses should call Bishop Auckland Serious Crime Team on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.