A GRANDMOTHER has told of her distress after thieves stole her treasured collection of garden ornaments.
Barbara Towne had been collecting the ornaments – many of which were given to her by relatives, friends and neighbours – for 22 years.
The 64-year-old, who is disabled and struggles to walk, spent hours lovingly hand-painting them and kept her collection in the garden at her flat in Norwich Road, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth.
Now Mrs Towne is devastated after 61 ornaments, which included garden gnomes, Buddhas, frogs and toads were stolen along with butterfly and dragonfly solar-powered lights overnight on Monday.
She says she will never be able to replace them. Police say the haul is worth more than £1,000.
Mrs Towne said: ‘There was absolutely no reason for doing it. The garden’s tucked right away.
‘I’d been collecting them for 22 years. Some of them were presents from my grandchildren and neighbours. I hand-painted them myself.
‘They just swept though the garden and took them away.
‘I’m absolutely gutted. I can’t believe it.
‘If I think about it too much I just cry. It’s horrible. There were so many of them and they were so nicely painted. Some of them were two or three feet tall.
‘I wouldn’t ever replace them now because I don’t want it to happen again.’
PCSO Anna Zervas said: ‘Many of these items had been given to the homeowner by friends and family and had then been customised.
‘As 61 items were taken, the offender would have had to go back and forth on a number of occasions or they may have had a vehicle with them. This is the first incident of this nature we have had reported in the area.
‘But we would urge any members of the public with garden ornaments to secure them as best they can and to mark them with their postcode and house number.’
Anyone who may have noticed suspicious activity or vehicles in the area, witnessed the theft or may have been offered the stolen items for sale should call PCSO Zervas at Cosham police station on 101.
Alternatively call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.