Doorcam footage has captured the moment a suspected burglar smashed their way into the home of a beloved dad while his family were at his memorial service. Jeff Walker from Blackpool died in December while on the ‘holiday of a lifetime’ in Australia.
He and his fiancée of six years Donna Jones had been due to tie the knot Down Under, when 57-year-old Jeff was suddenly taken ill on during flight from Dubai to Perth. After collapsing outside the plane’s toilets on December 22, Jeff was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital and just hours later, the dad was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
He passed away on Christmas Day.
- Manhunt for knife-wielding robber who targeted Accrington shop
- Blackpool’s ‘biblical plague’ of rats under control after specialist crack squad sent in
Since having difficulty returning to the UK, Donna has settled back into life in Blackpool and on Saturday, February 3, a memorial was arranged at the RNLI to remember the much-loved dad. However, whilst the family celebrated Jeff’s life with loved ones, their home was broken into and priceless possessions stolen.
CCTV shared with LancsLive by the family shows the hooded suspect walking down the front path to the rear of the property. Dressed in dark clothing, they appear to pause for a moment to check their surroundings before throwing a rock into the conservatory window to gain entry.
The same figure was then seen almost 20 minutes later leaving the home with Donna’s own pink/purple suitcase and walking away down a nearby street.
Donna says the family were only out of the house for a total of 90 minutes, with the suspect largely stealing Jeff’s possessions including his watches, wallet, necklaces, collection of £2, Masonic items, police helmets belonging to his father and the most priceless of them all – his wedding ring.
“The ring had to be specially made because when we bought it, it was about five sizes too small,” Donna told LancsLive.
“It took them about three or four weeks to work on it and custom make it so it fit. It’s got two different elements to it and the middle bandit is raised. In terms of the size as well, how many men’s rings are in a Z++?
“He said originally he didn’t want a wedding ring, he wanted a wedding watch. But then he saw this ring and said no, I want a ring.
“It was like oh, ok then. So for him to have said that, it was even more special.”
Over £400 was kept in a box of £2 coins which had also been stolen, something Jeff collected for the couple to spend on weekend’s away throughout the year. Three police helmets, belonging to Jeff’s dad were also taken during the incident.
The helmets were used for the now defunct Blackpool Borough before it changed to the modern day Lancashire Police. Donna continued: “They’re not worth a lot as far as money’s concerned, because he checked just in case we needed to have them separately on the insurance.
“I think they’re only worth about £40-50 each so it’s not about their monetary value. It was sentimental to him, he was really proud of his dad.”
Speaking about her feelings when she first walked into the home on Saturday morning, Donna said: “Part of it was shock and disgust, but there was another part of it because I had been trying to keep myself busy all week. I had done all of the food for the celebration afterwards.
“So I just carried on sorting the food out. I was just thinking, well what can I do about it now? I can’t do anything, so let’s get this food in the oven and get it round to the club.
Trying to understand what had been taken and why, Donna says it was largely Jeff’s possessions, with her jewellery box being the only thing that belonged to her. She said: “Yet my son’s brand new Xbox that my brother had just bought him was there, his old one that was on the settee, that stayed. Two laptops, they were still there and my watch was still there.”
Donna added: “The significant and obvious jewellery that was taken was my nan’s sovereigns and we’re going back to the 60s and 70s when they were all the rage. One of them was custom made, so it had a full sovereign and two half sovereigns.
“I think it was my grandma’s grandfather’s old watch chain that was made into the necklace.”
A spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary confirmed an arrest had been made in connection with the incident and had since been released on bail.
The force said: “The incident has been reported to us and has been thoroughly investigated. A 30-year-old man from Blackpool was arrested on 3rd of February on suspicion of burglary. He has been released on conditional bail pending further enquiries.
“While our enquiries are very much ongoing, this is being treated as an isolated incident. We appreciate that incidents of this nature are very impactful on the victim and we have a dedicated team of officers assigned to this case.”
You can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.