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Pensioner says organised crime gang stole wife’s jewellery months after her death

PUBLISHED: 13:17 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:32 07 November 2018

A crime gang committed burglaries across East Anglia. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police

A crime gang committed burglaries across East Anglia. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police

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Burglars stole jewellery - including an engagement ring - belonging to a pensioner’s late wife just months after her death.

Simon Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norfolk, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle. He previously admitted handling stolen goods and possession of a firearm. 
Picture: Staff photographerSimon Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norfolk, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle. He previously admitted handling stolen goods and possession of a firearm. Picture: Staff photographer

The victim, who lives near Long Stratton, said they raided his home and stole his car during the break-in in December last year.

Some of the items taken included jewellery belonging to his 70-year-old wife who had died three months earlier from cancer.

The man, who is aged 75, but did not want to be named, has today spoken out following the conviction of the ruthless gang responsible.

He said: “It was devastating, particularly because it happened so close to the death of my wife. “That jewellery was very precious to my family. It included an engagement ring, necklaces and other items she had accumulated over our 48 years of marriage.”

He said his car, a Skoda Octavia, was also taken during the break-in, which happened shortly before Christmas while he was out of the house.

Thomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, was found guilty of handling stolen goods. Picture: Staff photographerThomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, was found guilty of handling stolen goods. Picture: Staff photographer

He said it was later recovered by police having been used by the gang in a subsequent “ram raid”.

During a Norwich Crown Court trial, which concluded on November 1, a jury heard how the organised crime gang would often use stolen vehicles to commit further offences.

In total, they carried out more than 200 burglaries across the eastern region, including 96 in Norfolk, costing victims more than £2m.

The man said he was grateful to Norfolk police, who helped expose the gang and managed to recover some of his late wife’s jewellery, as well as his damaged car.

James Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of handling stolen goods. Picture: Staff photographerJames Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of handling stolen goods. Picture: Staff photographer

Police confirmed the man was one of the last victims of the gang’s 11-month crime spree, which took place between February and December last year.

The nine-men responsible are due to be sentenced at a later date after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

Three other men will also be sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy after being found guilty by a jury at Norwich Crown Court.

Simon Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norfolk, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle. He previously admitted handling stolen goods and possession of a firearm.

James Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, and his brother, Thomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridge, were found guilty of handling stolen goods.

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