‘Time to hand back chains’

The stolen chains
The stolen chains

POLICE say it is time to hand back civil regalia that was swiped four years ago as whoever took them has “made their point”.

The deputy mayoral chains were stolen in a raid on the civic centre, in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, on New Year’s Day night in 2008.

The vice-chairman and his lady’s chains, which are more than 100 years old, have never been found, despite extensive police investigations.

Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, of Hartlepool Police, said all lines of inquiry have been exhausted and the case is closed, but it is periodically reviewed and information is still being sought.

He is concerned though that they may never be found as the intricate jewellery may have been melted down.

He told the Hartlepool Mail: “They have either been taken for some other reason rather than their value, or to be melted down and sold on.

“I would say to the person who took them, if these items still exist, that they have made their point and it is time they were returned.

“We would again appeal for information as people out there will know who it was. Maybe they are no longer friends with that person, and would come forward anonymously.

“It would be great for the town if these chains could be returned, and a piece of the town’s history could go back on display.”

Hartlepool Borough Council received insurance money totalling £46,000 for the stolen items.

Plans were put in place to replace them, with the hope that schoolchildren would help design a new set, but those ideas were scrapped due to the cutbacks faced by the council.

The money was instead used to keep open West View Library and West View Community Centre, in Miers Avenue, for nine months.

The library finally closed at the end of December while West View Advice and Resource Centre and West View Project are in negotiations with the council about taking over the lease of the building for community use.

The closure – which will not result in any compulsory redundancies – will save the local authority £39,000 a year.

The council is faced with slashing £15m from its £90m budget over the next three years.

l DO you know who has the mayoral chains? Call Cleveland Police on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.