A WIDOW is distraught after burglars stole a collection of model cars that belonged to her late husband.
Jean Empson had kept the highly collectable items safe for almost 10 years after her husband, Frederick Howes, died suddenly at 64 years old.
Now the 45-year-old is devastated after thieves broke into a garage below her second-floor flat in Billy’s Copse, Leigh Park.
The burglars stole about 100 collectable Corgi cars, double-decker buses and trams, complete with their original certificates and packaging.
Her husband had spent years building up the huge collection
It is believed the models could be worth up to about £3,000.
The burglars also fled with a green patterned tin containing collectable silk cigarette cards that were decades old.
These had also been collected by Miss Empson’s late husband
She had planned to keep the cars and the cigarette cards until next year when their youngest son Nikki turns 18, to fulfil her husband’s wish for them to be passed on to him.
The mum-of-two, who was married to her husband for 18 years before his death from liver failure in 2001, said: ‘I had my things all boxed up in a pile at the end of the garage.
‘It’s been ransacked.
‘My things were all over the place.
‘I’ve got no idea how they broke in.
‘The garage was locked when I went down there.
‘I’m really hurt. I just want my things back.
‘My husband said that when he went he wanted the things to go to my youngest son when he turns 18.
‘His dad died when he was seven years old – now all he’s got left is a photo of him.
‘They were memories of my husband and they have just taken them away.
‘They are of sentimental value.
‘I just want the people who have done this to be punished for what they’ve done.
‘They didn’t think about what those things meant to me, they have just taken them.
‘I won’t keep anything of sentimental value in there any more.’
A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said officers were investigating the burglary and asked for anyone with information to contact them.
The spokesman said: ‘Someone has gone into the garage at the property and taken boxes containing various items.
‘The theft happened between 4.30pm on January 12 and 11am on Monday.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact Hampshire Constabulary on 0845 045 4545 or 101, or call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555111.