break-in terror | 

Couple whose house was ransacked leading to arrest of Irish teen are ‘living in fear’

‘I do believe they would have used the weapon if my husband had stepped forward’

Numerous items of sentimental value were stolen

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A couple in Staffordshire whose house was broken into and ransacked in an incident that led to the arrest of an Irish teenager have spoken of their ordeal.

Police said three men and a boy, including the 18-year-old from Sligo, and a 16-year-old, 26-year-old and a 27-year-old all from Bristol, were arrested on suspicion of burglary offences but later eliminated from enquiries.

It follows the ordeal endured by the couple who had reportedly gone for a sauna, after a busy day selling Christmas trees.

However, when they came home, they came face-to-face with armed men inside their house and were chased off their own property as the raiders fled to a getaway car.

The break-in happened at their property on the A34 through Stone at around 7.30pm on Saturday, December 3, Stoke-on-Trent Live reported.

Mum-of-two Daye Hartley (46) told how they left the house at 6.50pm and everybody was out.

The house was turned upside down

“When we got back we turned up and caught the three men in the act,” she recalled. “My husband said 'what are you doing on my property?', but they chased us off our property as one of them had something in their hand and we didn't know if it was a knife. When we looked on the CCTV we realised it was a long screwdriver.”

Ms Daye said the men “chased us back down out of the alleyway and into the road” as she was “screaming to call the police”.

"The three men carried on running up the main road and they must have had a getaway vehicle,” she added. “I do believe they would have used the weapon if my husband had stepped forward.

"They'd smashed a window to get inside. My daughter's Louis Vuitton handbags which she'd got for her 18th birthday were taken as well as a couple of pairs of shoes and three gold bangles. They took my jewellery which had taken me 25 years to save up for and they took some money.”

Numerous items of sentimental value were stolen

Among the treasured items stolen by the burglars was her husband's limited-edition Rolex GMT 2 watch that his dad had given him while Ms Daye’s Rolex was also taken as well as diamond rings and a tennis bracelet.

“My Chanel handbag that I got when I was 19 was also taken,” she said. “The jewellery was sentimental, things that have been handed down to us.

"You work hard all of your life and it gets taken off you. My husband is a workaholic, he's worked that hard, and he just can't even talk about it. We'll never get them back now.

"They smashed our house alarms off the walls. They left muddy footprints all through the house, there was smashed glass everywhere, they'd ripped our blinds getting in. They ransacked the whole house, it was a proper tip."

Ms Daye described the effects the incident has had on both her and her husband, who has been to the doctors “as it has made him ill” while she is “on sleeping tablets now”.

“If this had happened to an old person it would have killed them,” she said.

She said that being chased out of their home by people “wearing big padded coats”, looking like “Michelin men, was so intimidating, it's scary.”

Ms Daye praised local people who “have been so kind” after they were sent flowers, chocolates and biscuits.

"We think they came for the petty cash from selling the trees,” she added. “We're trusting people, me and my husband are members of Milton Church and if they would have come to me, we would have helped them.

“We just feel let down. We're not people who live in fear, but I am frightened now. I have sleeping tablets to sleep, because if I hear a noise I think they are going to come back.

"I don't have any hatred towards them, I just want my things back as some have sentimental value as they were given to us as birthday and Christmas presents. I'm upset, but eventually life goes on and we'll learn to trust people again. I just don't want it happening to anyone else."

Police made four arrests following the raid, but they were later released with no further action.

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "We were called at 8.05pm on Saturday, December 3 to reports of a burglary on The Fillybrooks, Stone. It was reported that three men were seen running from the property. They were wearing black hoodies and masks. A number of items were stolen.

"Three men and a boy were arrested – an 18-year-old from Sligo, Ireland and a 16-year-old, 26-year-old and a 27-year-old all from Bristol – on suspicion of burglary offences. But they were eliminated from enquiries and released with no further action."

Anyone with any information should call the police on 101, quoting incident number 720 of 3 December, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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