Wokingham Today

Armed robbers force dad and son to hand over valuables

- By PHIL CREIGHTON news@wokinghamp­aper.co.uk

A MAN who was forced to hand over jewellery and precious family heirlooms to armed robbers who broke into his home has launched an appeal to try and catch them before they strike again.

Earlier this month, the Swallowfie­ld man – who we are not naming – was enjoying a movie night with his sevenyear-old son when a gang of four thieves smashed a back window to gain entry. They then took his mobile phone away before making him open a safe to access a host of valuables. Some of the items have great sentimenta­l value for the family.

The incident took place on Saturday, March 10, at the home in Spring Lane around 9.30pm.

“It was an absolutely terrifying experience that no one should go through, least of all a seven-year-old boy,” he told The Wokingham Paper.

The man’s wife and eldest son were away in London for the day, leaving him to enjoy a day with his younger son. They’d spent part of the day making beehives before settling down to enjoy a movie with some pizza.

But as the film ended, the thieves smashed a window at the rear of the home and let themselves in.

“I was extremely shocked and extremely scared,” the victim admitted. “They were armed with a big hammer and a knife.”

Over the next half-hour, they forced the man from room to room, taking what they fancied including a shogun and an old watch that had been given to the man by his grandfathe­r.

“They also took some antique Georgian cutlery which had belonged to my wife’s grandparen­ts and £700 in cash. They left laptops and cars: I told them they could take them, but they didn’t. They didn’t take much jewellery,” he said.

After they left, the man was able to call police from his work mobile, which thankfully hadn’t been taken by the gang. Officers arrived within 15 minutes: “I was pleased to see them,” he said.

The raid has left the mental scars: the victim said that he had received counsellin­g since the incident, while his son has been coping well and received “wonderful” support from his school but also had some nightmares.

“Aggravated burglary is such a serious offence and these guys are profession­al burglars,” the man said.

Now the search is on for witnesses who may have seen something around 9pm in Barge Lane.

The property stolen included:

A Rolex watch, with the serial number 4442049 model number 1002/0, dating from the 1970s with a black leather strap was stolen. The watch had ‘M&D 2000’ engraved on the back.

AYA no.2 side by side 12 bore shotgun with wooden stock and grey gunmetal barrels. It has the serial number 558093.

Standard 12 bore shotgun shells, mostly 28g 6’s from various manufactur­ers.

A set of silver Georgian cutlery in a box and a black leather Mont Blanc man’s wallet.

The gang left the scene in a red car.

The main offender is described as a black man, approximat­ely 5ft 10ins, of a chunky build, and aged in his late twenties.

He had a London accent and was dressed in black from head to toe. He carried a knife and a hammer.

The other men were also dressed in black and all were wearing balaclavas. One man was about 6ft and had a slim to average build. He was carrying a wooden or metal stake. Several members of the group had white soles with a white star on their black trainers.

Investigat­ing officer Detective Constable Joanna Williams, of Berkshire Force CID, said: “Detectives are working to establish the circumstan­ces of the aggravated burglary and we are appealing for the public’s help.

“If anyone has witnessed anything they think could be significan­t, seen any suspicious activity in the area of the offence, or been offered the property, please contact police.”

And the victim said of the red car seen in Barge Lane: “It’s a single lane and while they are repairing Basingstok­e Road, lots of cars are cutting through there. Surely someone would have seen a car parked up in the road in the middle of the night.”

It is possible that the gang of four are the same group who are currently stealing jewellery and other valuables from across the borough since the beginning of the year.

“They need to be stopped and hopefully put in prison for a very long time,” the man said.

Anyone who has any informatio­n is asked to call Thames Valley Police on 101 quoting ref: 4318007411­6.

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