Widower targeted by burglars who knew he was mourning

A widower is believed to be the victim of a targetted burglary.
A widower is believed to be the victim of a targetted burglary.

A Derbyshire widower who suffered his house being ransacked by burglars weeks after losing his wife has called the malicious thieves ‘despicable’.

These are the shocking scenes of a widower’s house hit by thieves, who broke in and ransacked his home and even searched the loft for cash mere weeks after his wife passed away.

Derbyshire man John Whitaker is mourning the recent passing of his wife Chris, pictured, and now burglars have trashed his home.

Derbyshire man John Whitaker is mourning the recent passing of his wife Chris, pictured, and now burglars have trashed his home.

And as the family of Heanor man John Whitaker still hope sentimental items will be found, it emerges that his home may have been targeted by thieves who heard about the passing of his wife, Chris, in October aged 66, and believed

Heartbroken pensioner John said the burglars would also have believed that he was keeping a large amount of cash at home after fundraising in her honour for charity. He said: “It’s despicable. It’s only a few weeks since my wife died and we’re still struggling with that.”

John, 67, is quite well known in Heanor having lived in the town for 38 years working as a financial advisor, and said burglars would have recognised him in the local media.

“I put a notice out saying thank you to everyone for their generosity as we had raised £1,500 for charity. They knew who I was, and they thought we had cash in the house, so yes, I think we were targeted.

Every room in the house was ransacked.

Every room in the house was ransacked.

“But if these lot think I’ve got £1,500 sitting in a tin waiting for them, they’re mugs.”

John and his family were devastated to discover the home he shared with his wife for 38 years had been ruthlessly ransacked.

He was with his grandchildren at daughter Melissa Kelly’s home when the incident took place on the weekend of December 5-6.

Melissa said police described the burglary as the ‘strangest they had ever seen’.

The family think burglars were looking for a charity fund raised in Chris's name.

The family think burglars were looking for a charity fund raised in Chris's name.

She added: “They ransacked the house, went through every wardrobe, every draw and cupboard, but not breaking anything - they were looking for something specific.

“Luckily most of mum’s things were gone so they didn’t take her jewellery, but they took a watch handed down from my grandfather, and some gold cufflinks bought by my mum.

“I know they targeted us, I know they knew that mum had died and that’s what’s so upsetting. Dad thinks they were after money we had raised for charity in my Mum’s memory. I think it’s also because they know that Mum has died and that my family is vulnerable, and that’s what makes it so upsetting.

“We’re disgusted. They haven’t got any morals if they can do a thing like that. I can’t quantify it. The stress of it all has been horrendous.”

Thieves went through cupboards and jars to look for a key to a safety deposit box - which turned out to be empty.

Thieves went through cupboards and jars to look for a key to a safety deposit box - which turned out to be empty.

Derbyshire Police confirmed the Whitaker’s house in Heanor was burgled sometime between 1pm on Saturday and 10am Sunday.

A spokesperson said: “Burglars smashed a rear window to gain entry and carried out an untidy search of the house, pulling out all the kitchen drawers and opening cupboards, as well as going into the loft and searching through boxes.”

John and Melissa would particularly like Chris’s mother’s Omega watch returned.

THe very rare 1970s 9ct gold Omega watch is recognisable with a ‘Milanese’ style strap, and very sentimental as it belonged to John’s mother. A pair of gold cufflinks with large white stones bought for John by his parents were also taken as thieves trashed the house in search for a charity fund.

But John can’t help laughing to imagine the look on the thieves’ faces as they left empty handed.

He added: “They must have thought they hit the jackpot when they came across a safety deposit box, and they went through every jar, lifting the lids to look for a key.

“The hilarious thing is that when they eventually got into it, they found it was empty.”

If you have any information that can help see it returned, or to help officers find the burglars, please contact Derbyshire police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting incident 52616/15.