A police probe has been launched after raiders stole cash and belongings from three apartments in a South Tyneside retirement home – after snatching a master key to the complex.
Security measures have been stepped up after the burglaries at Saville Lodge, in Saville Street, South Shields.
The safety of our tenants is paramount.John Oxborough, Saville Lodge District Manager
Bosses at the home have been forced to fit new locks at the complex’s 31 purpose-built properties.
Police are still hunting the offenders and are appealing for witnesses to the series of break-ins to come forward.
Bosses at Saville Lodge – which is home to residents aged 55 and over – say they are assisting police in their investigation.
Security staff have been in place at Saville Lodge since the incident.
The raids took place between 3pm on Thursday, July 30 and 9am the following day, with the offender entering the building before forcing entry to a safe and taking the master key.
Three further break-ins were reported at apartments in the building on Thursday, July 30, while they were unoccupied.
Police have spoken to residents at the retired housing scheme to reassure residents and provide crime-prevention advice.
John Oxborough, district manager at Saville Lodge, said: “Security staff have been in place since the incident, and will remain in place throughout this week while new locks are fitted, ensuring 24/7 support for tenants.
“We have spoken to all tenants to provide reassurance and advice, and are doing everything possible to assist the police in their investigation. The safety of our tenants is paramount.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Young said: “This is a particularly nasty crime in that the offender or offenders have broken into a sheltered housing scheme and stolen from elderly, and in some cases, vulnerable people. Whoever has done this has stolen relatively small amounts of money but have caused a huge amount of concern and worry for the victims and staff at premises.”
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference number 404 31/07/15 or by ringing the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”