A FAMILY have been left shocked and devastated after thousands of pounds worth of sentimental heirlooms were stolen.
Hartlepool dad and grandad Brian Atkinson has collected ornaments, statues, copper and brass figurines, and other valuable items for decades, with the intention of one day handing them over to his children and grandchildren.
There was so much in his collection that the 68-year-old retired builder bought a static caravan to store the items in and parked it on his drive in the Oxford Street area of the town.
But some time last week, thieves raided the caravan and stole an estimated £10,000 of goods – some which were more than 30 years old – including: a solid copper diver’s helmet, a leather elephant chess board, a 3ft-tall black statue of a man holding a bowl-shaped bunch of bananas, brass horses and carts, and expensive wall clocks, to
name but a few.
The family believe those responsible gained entry to the caravan by removing and then replacing one of its windows and then left without a trace.
Brian, a dad-of-six and grandad-of-17, didn’t realise the stash was gone until he opened up the caravan on Friday and found at least 20 boxes of his treasures had gone.
His son Michael Atkinson, 30 – who works in property maintenance – said his dad, and the whole of the family have been affected by the break-in and want help in tracing the goods.
They have even put up a £1,000 reward for information given to the police leading to a successful conviction of the perpetrators.
Dad-of-two Michael, also from the town’s Oxford Street area, said: “These items mean everything to our family and we just really want to have them back.
“It’s horrible, it’s the worst thing that could have happened to my dad, he’s just too old for this, he’s too old for all the stress.
“This has had a major impact on the whole family, as burglaries do. Some of these items were more than 30-years-old and were worth thousands of pounds.
“Some of them have been in the family for that long that we couldn’t put a price on them.
“But it’s not about the monetary value, the stuff is sentimental and my dad wanted to pass it down to us all.”
He added: “They’ve just gone in and helped themselves and got away with about 20 boxes of gear. They must have had to have had a van or something to take it all away because there was that much stuff.
“It’s really sad. My dad’s collected stuff all of his life, it’s just what he does. Some people like buying cars, or going on holidays, my dad likes buying unusual and interesting ornaments and belongings and loads of it has just gone.
“We’re all gutted and we just want it back.”
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police confirmed the family had reported the crime and said officers were investigating.
She said anyone who has any information on the people responsible, or if anyone is offered the goods for sale, should contact police on 101, or Crimestoppers on (0800) 555111.