A career criminal has been jailed for three years after what a court was told was his 100th crime – a burglary at the house of a 95-year-old man in Lutterworth.
Frederick John Locke (47), from Nuneaton, was jailed this week by a judge at Leicester Crown Court.
Locke had pleaded guilty to the burglary, in which he took watches and cash from the house of Cyril Ball, in Dyson Close, Lutterworth, back in January.
Mr Ball, who was in hospital at the time, died a week after the Lutterworth burglary, after being told about the crime by his family.
His son Peter Ball, who also lives in Lutterworth, this week praised the police for their work in dealing with the burglary, and for securing the conviction.
“We are sometimes told that the police aren’t bothered about burglaries,” he said.
“But we are delighted with how the police have dealt with this case, and how they have kept us informed all the way through.”
Mr Ball Senior’s house had been ransacked by Locke and an accomplice, who has yet to be sentenced by the court.
The burglary was first spotted by a neighbour, after they noticed curtains had been drawn when no-one had been in the house.
Peter Ball told the Mail: “The burglars tipped over every drawer, opened every tin and they made an absolute mess of the place.
“And basically what they took was watches, a few knick-knacks and a bit of loose change.
“It looks like what they were really after was cash.
“They didn’t take other things that were obviously of value, like dad’s medals which had been on show.”
The family, including Peter, his brother and his sister, then had a very difficult decision to make, about whether to tell their father about the burglary or not.
“Dad was an extremely honest man, there was no front with him – and he was fully compos mentis,” explained Peter.
“In the end, after some discussion, we decided it was disrespectful not to tell him what had happened.
“He was extremely upset of course.
“He died the following Monday, a week after the burglary.”
Cyril Ball had been well-known in Lutterworth.
A former commercial traveller in the fabric trade, he was an active member of both the Lutterworth Opera Group and the Lutterworth Methodist Church.
Now Peter Ball says he has a message for burglars, after his family’s experience.
He said it was wrong for burglars like Locke to think that a burglary was a harmless crime that was easily forgotten by victims they would never meet.
He said: “Burglars probably think their crimes have no effect on their victims – if they think about their victims at all.
“But we felt my father’s place had been infringed by this burglary.
“The whole family was extremely angry and upset – including my father.
“He died soon after being told what had happened.
“He was 95, which people will say is a good age, but it is still too short for us, I assure you.”
Locke had a string of former convictions for burglary offences, said detective constable Peter Lockey, from Wigston CID, who was the investigating officer.
“He was a career criminal and this was his 100th offence,” said the detective.
The thief had admitted other burglaries, including some in Lubenham, near Market Harborough, and Sharnford.
His co-defendant is due to be sentenced later this year.