PENSIONER Nina Anderson tracked down a burglar who stole priceless heirlooms from her home – and got him jailed.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 78-year-old scoured pawn shops after her home was raided by Martin Campbell while she was inside.
Police had arrested the 28-year-old but released him with no further action.
But now Campbell is behind bars after Mrs Anderson’s detective work.
The 78-year-old said: ‘I went to Cosham, I went all up North End and I left copies of the stolen gold.
‘I found myself looking in pawn shops every time I passed by. Then this time something caught my eye – it was my silver necklace.
‘It took my work to do it, otherwise we wouldn’t have heard anything.’
Mrs Anderson has got the silver chain back but it had been broken – a gold chain was also recovered.
Campbell had forced his way into the home she shares with Maurice, 75, and snatched gold necklaces and chains in a jewellery box in a bedroom.
An 18ct gold necklace with an image of St Anthony that Mrs Anderson’s late father Nicola Misto gave to her when she left Italy in 1957 is still missing.
Devastated Mrs Anderson trawled far and wide before finally spotting the two items in the window of Cash and Cheque Express in Crasswell Street.
She went into the shop, told police and dad-of-one Campbell was finally re-arrested and charged after the jewellery was linked back to him.
He had cashed in the jewellery worth £399 in the pawn shop for just £200.
Prosecutor Martyn Booth told the court: ‘The police had effectively concluded their investigations.
‘Thankfully the Andersons had conducted their own enquiries. On February 19 she identified a couple of items from a pawn shop.
‘Enquiries established that the defendant had turned up on December 30, two days after the burglary, trying to sell the items.
Campbell, of Fawcett Road, Southsea burgled the Andersons’ home in Hollam Road, Milton, after they gave him odd jobs to do after taking pity on him.
‘We treated him like one of the family,’ Mrs Anderson said.
Sentencing him to three years, Judge Sarah Munro QC said: ‘You describe them as people with hearts of gold.
‘You threw their kindness back in their faces as you did their trust in you by breaking into their home and stealing jewellery.
‘These offences, as I hope you understand, were a great betrayal.
‘They’ve led to a considerable detrimental effect on that couple.’
Campbell has 24 court appearances for 40 offences, including previous burglaries in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
He admitted burglary and fraud – relating to pawning the jewellery.
The burglary has left the elderly couple unable to trust people.
Mrs Anderson added: ‘We can’t trust anybody, I’m locking myself in.
‘I’ve been through quite a lot, I’ve been traumatised. I’ve had to go to the doctors to get sleeping tablets.’
Campbell was handed 18 weeks in prison on top as he committed the crimes while on a suspended sentence for stealing a bicycle from his workplace. Police also found four cannabis plants at his home. The bike was worth £400 but he sold it for £50 at Cash Generators.
Barry McElduff, defending, handed up a letter to the judge – written by Campbell apologising to the Andersons.
Mr McElduff said: ‘He accepts full responsibility for he offences. ‘He expresses remorse and shame.
He added Campbell burgled the home after falling out with his family and spending Christmas on his own eating a tin of soup.
Mr McElduff added: ‘He’d gone to the Andersons, in fact, either to ask them for money or ask for further work from them. Temptation got the better of him.’