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Christmas in ruins for Lowestoft family

PUBLISHED: 09:39 12 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:00 05 July 2010

thieves have ruined a family's festive season preparations by stealing more than £2,500 of Christmas gifts, it emerged this week.

The intruders got into the garage of a house at Carlton Colville and helped themselves to 12 bags of presents.

thieves have ruined a family's festive season preparations by stealing more than £2,500 of Christmas gifts, it emerged this week.

The intruders got into the garage of a house at Carlton Colville and helped themselves to 12 bags of presents.

Police investigations were under way this week into the crime, committed between last Thursday night and the following morning.

They are also hunting the criminals responsible for a similar case reported to them this week: a bag of presents - including toys and clothes - that went missing from a home in Tonning Street, Lowestoft, between Thursday, October 30 and last Monday.

Suffolk Constabulary urged people in and around the town to look after their presents in the run-up to Christmas.

Carlton Colville victims Maria Hartley and her partner Rory Beer said the thefts from their home had left them devastated.

Ms Hartley, 28, told The Journal: “It made me feel so angry - I just felt so sick and cried all day last Friday after discovering everything had gone. I don't know how someone could be so horrible to do that.

“What made me even more gutted was the fact that I don't normally use the garage to store the presents.

“We normally keep them in the spare bedroom, but as our cat has just had kittens we've been using the spare room for the cat.”

Ms Hartley said she had only collected presents from her relatives four weeks ago - and now those treasured gifts for her five and six-year-old son and daughter, as well as other gifts for her family and her daughter's birthday presents, had gone.

Among the thieves' haul was a Nikon digital camera, a digital photo frame, Wii computer games, DVDs, Nintendo DS games, Polly Pocket toys, clothes, toys, teddy bears, jewellery - including a gold bangle, gold earrings, a nine carat gold chain - food, chocolates, luggage, crockery, a brand new watch, hair straighteners and Chanel perfume.

“It is a nice quiet area around here, and while we've heard of a few incidents where sheds have been broken into they went into my garage and hit the jackpot,” Ms Hartley said. “It has put a dampener on things, but people like this are not going to ruin our Christmas. “We don't want to let them feel as though they have won.”

Calling on others to take vital crime prevention measures, she added: “People should be made aware that although you may live in quieter areas, this can happen to you. “Just make sure that everything is locked up.”

This has been echoed by crime reduction officers, who added that when shopping, it's important not to leave bags of presents in view in cars. The police also suggest that presents, especially expensive ones, are not left under the Christmas tree where they can be seen through a window.

Police are also reminding people they can register their valuable Christmas presents with www.Immobilise.com

Insp. Ben Cook from the Crime Reduction Department stressed the importance of being careful this Christmas. “Only place the packaging of gifts outside your property on the morning of your rubbish collection to avoid advertising what valuable items you have,” he said. “Residents should ensure they have some lights on timers during the darker evenings.”

Police are keen to hear from witnesses to both burglaries, and information about the Carlton Colville theft is sought.

“A number of vehicles were seen in the area, but if anyone saw anything suspicious or someone putting 12 bags into what would have been a large vehicle, please contact us,” police press officer Anne-Marie Breach said.

“We're also keen to hear from a man in his mid teens to early 20s, around 5ft 6in tall, who was wearing a silver jacket and was riding a grey pedal cycle.”

Information should be directed to Lowestoft police on 01986 835300 of for further crime prevention advice contact your local Crime Reduction Officer on 01473 613500.

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