Housebreakers steal single mum’s precious family mementoes

Gemma Coleman's flat was ransacked
Gemma Coleman's flat was ransacked
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THIEVES have ransacked an Edinburgh home – stealing everything from a death certificate to an eight-year-old’s underwear.

Gemma Coleman, 31, said she felt “terrified” when she discovered the break-in at her Easter Road flat after returning home from work.

Among the items stolen was the death certificate of her grandfather, Hugh McCarron, along with his watch and the hospital envelope containing sympathy cards. They also pinched a £10 note which he had in his pocket when he died in 2000, which Ms Coleman had kept for sentimental reasons.

Ms Coleman, who is epileptic, said the thieves took a wedding band, a watch and an engagement ring belonging to her dead grandmother, Irene Hunt, as well as her daughter’s underwear and toy bangles. Police confirmed an investigation was under way.

Ms Coleman said: “I’m sick. I feel devastated, terrified – I haven’t slept for two days. They absolutely trashed the whole flat. Everything, even my daughter’s underwear, had been taken.

“It was as if a whole group of people ransacked the house. It had been turned upside down.”

Two laptop computers, jewellery, savings worth £300, epilepsy medication, painkillers and a Nintendo DSI were also taken.

The break-in was discovered by Ms Coleman at around 3.15pm on Friday afternoon after she returned from work at 275 Cafe in Easter Road.

Ms Coleman said she realised something was wrong when she was unable to get her key in the front door as it had been locked from inside.

She said her sister and a friend, who were with her at the time, were able to access the rear of the property through the neighbouring close and discovered a window and the flat’s back door had been forced open.

Ms Coleman added that the police were called immediately and five police cars were on the scene “in minutes”.

She said: “When the police got there, I just kept saying to them, ‘can I get in?’, because I needed to find out if my granny and grandad’s stuff was still in there. Nothing else mattered to me.

“The police went with me from room to room to see what was missing and wouldn’t allow me to touch anything. But everything was lying open – I could see immediately that it had all been taken.”

Ms Coleman said that her grandmother passed away in her sleep in September 2005.

She added: “Those objects meant everything to me. They weren’t worth a lot. I had them for sentimental purposes only but they can’t ever be replaced.

“It feels like my privacy has been totally invaded,” she added. “Why did it happen to me? I don’t have any enemies around here – I’m a single mother.”

A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police are investigating following a break-in and theft from an address in Easter Road.

“Various items of electrical equipment, jewellery and a three-figure sum of cash were stolen during the incident, which happened sometime between 8.45am and 3pm on Friday, February 17.

“Anyone who is in the area and remembers seeing anything suspicious is asked to contact police immediately.”