Havant couple '˜heartbroken' after burglars torch treasured family items

A COUPLE have been left devastated after burglars broke into their private garage and stole from it '“ before burning their treasured family items to cinders.

Monday, 13th June 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 1:08 pm
Debbie Ricketts (54) from Havant, next to her garage which was broken into around the 26th May where precious family items stolen and then was set on fire. Picture: Sarah Standing (160801-1578)

Deborah and Pete Ricketts, of Horsebridge Road in Havant were left ‘absolutely gutted’ upon discovering that their private garage on Lockerley Road on Tuesday, May 24 had been broken into and set alight.

The garage contained ‘memory boxes’ of the couple that included items such as their four children’s first shoes, scrapbooks and christening certificates which were ‘irreplaceable’.

Pete, 54, discovered the damage after heading down to pick up a pushbike for one of his grandchildren on Thursday, May 26, only to find the unit covered in a sooty blanket with no sign of the bike.

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He said: ‘It has all been destroyed. It is just awful. It seems like they took what they wanted and then burnt the rest to cover their tracks. It’s impossible to know exactly what they took because the fire damage was that bad.’

The burglary came only just four weeks after the garage had previously been broken into and some tools were stolen after a crowbar had been used to curve the garage’s entrance upwards.

To combat a repeat break-in, Pete stacked bricks in the adjacent garage but it appears that the burglars kicked the bricks to gain access to his garage.

In addition to the memory boxes, the garage contained ladders and two canoes which Pete believes were stolen before the place was torched.

Deborah, also 54, added: ‘I was so upset about it. They were such sentimental things like my kids’ first shoes. I was utterly heartbroken.

‘It is all our personal belongings which made it so gutting. We’re so angry but we feel that we’ve got to let it go or it will just eat us all up.’

The couple privately rented the garage which is owned by housing association The Guinness Partnership and an investigation into the incident has now been launched by Hampshire Constabulary.

A spokesperson for the police said: ‘We were called to reports of a fire that caused significant damage to two garages. The incident is now under investigation.’

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were at the scene at around 11.04pm.

A spokesperson added: ‘We used breathing apparatus and four hose reels to dampen the fire. There was no indication that the fire was deliberate.’

A spokesperson from The Guinness partnership said they were ‘very sorry’ about the fire and that they’ve offered the couple lease of another garage.