GULF war veteran Ian Waterhouse has spoken of his devastation after burglars stole his Royal Navy service medals.
The 54-year-old former chief petty officer is distraught after crooks broke into his home and stole the sentimental items.
His house in Stakes Road, Purbrook, was broken into during the day, at some point while he was at work or playing five-a-side football.
The dad-of-two, who served in the Gulf in 1981 and 1991, was stunned the crooks appeared to walk straight past valuables like a laptop and digital camera and go for jewellery, medals and watches instead.
Snatched from his bedside were navy medals stored in a metal box, including a long service and good conduct medal, both the full-size and miniature versions.
He was hoping his sons, Ryan, 18, and Nathan, 15, would inherit the medals when he died.
Mr Waterhouse, who spent 23 years in the Royal Navy, said: ‘I’m devastated and upset that someone would have the gall to come into my property and wander round cherry-picking what they wanted without any regard for what they are taking.
‘The medals have great sentimental value and the jewellery and watches have been bought for specific reasons.
‘The medals were recognition of your time and what you have achieved.
‘They were going to be passed to my sons.’
The burglars also took nine watches, cufflinks, and two gold rings, one with the initials ‘IJ’ on it.
Around £40 in £2 coins was stolen.
‘I’m 55 and this is the first time it’s happened,’ said Mr Waterhouse, who works at the Defence Scientific Technical Laboratory in Southwick.
‘It’s that feeling of having your property violated.’
Mr Waterhouse was shocked by the way the raiders worked.
He was only alerted to the break-in after noticing a broken vase in the kitchen.
The crooks had managed to open a locked kitchen window.
To make their escape, they moved heavy garden furniture to climb over the fence into a neighbour’s garden before escaping down Jacqueline Avenue.
Mr Waterhouse said: ‘It seems to be as if it’s planned.
‘They seem to just go straight in and go for the small items.’
Mr Waterhouse appealed to the burglars to return the medals to the police.
The burglary happened between 8.15am and 7.30pm on Thursday, November 13.
Havant and Waterlooville District CID are looking into whether it is linked to any other burglaries in the area.
Detectives reminded people to use timer switches, not to leave valuables and cash on show and to continue to report any suspicious activity.
Detective Sergeant Simon Clacey said: ‘The darker evenings make it much easier to identify unoccupied homes.
‘Please use a timer switch to make it look as if you are at home if you don’t get in before it’s dark.
‘We would also encourage anyone who notices suspicious activity to contact us.
‘Have you seen someone you don’t recognise in your street acting suspiciously? Please let us know.’
A Safer Christmas Pop Up Shop event is being held in Waterlooville town centre on Friday, December 12 from 10.30am onwards at Unit 13 The Boulevard, near to the library.
The Neighbourhood Policing team will be on hand to answer questions and provide crime prevention advice.
Anyone with information on the burglary can call police on 101.
The stolen full-size medal has Ian Waterhouse’s name on it. The watches include a Rolex silver band, a gold Le Chat watch with his name on it, and a Storm green watch.
One of the gold rings has a black onyx on top of it.