The following appeal and story are courtesy Viv Lockwood of the Banner Cross Neighbourhood Group.....
"I’m sure you will be interested in the local story below but first there is an important request.
We are asking residents to keep a sharp look out for a large pine box and discarded jewellery and other items anywhere in the general area between Blair Athol Road and Endcliffe Park but especially in the following roads: Blair Athol, Murray, Carrington, Huntingtower, Peveril, Greystones, Ranby and Rustlings. Some items may have been thrown into skips, over hedges and into gardens. They are from a burglary and have little or no monetary value but are sentimentally important to the owner.
Please tell your friends and neighbours about this.
Anyone finding any of these items, please call 0114 2557198 or email: email@example.com
On Sunday afternoon (3 June), I received an email from a member who lives on Brincliffe Edge Road. It warned that at around 2.00pm a young man had knocked on their door saying he was “looking for Jason”. He was very polite and left when told there was no-one of that name living there.
However, he had aroused suspicions and was followed at a distance to see where he was going but then vanished from sight. The alert that this gave rise to included a good description of him and the clothes he was wearing. Our member placed it on the Facebook website: ‘Friends of S11’.
At just before 7.00pm that evening I received a phone call to tell me that another member’s house had been broken into. Our members were away but the caller, their neighbour, said the police were there and the burglar alarm was sounding. I went round to the house with the description of the young man from the earlier episode to give to the police. The double-glazed patio door at the rear of the property had been smashed with a large stone and was in small fragments both inside and outside the house.
While there, our members returned only to find the mess and to attempt to assess what had been taken. It was clear that the burglar had entered their rear garden from a property on Blair Athol Road, having scaled a wall and thrown a stone through the door. With the burglar alarm sounding he then went upstairs and spent long enough to take a pine box full of sentimental items collected over many years, including from when their children were babies. Our members were clearly shaken by the experience as we all would be.
The following morning, the story took an unexpected turn. Our member in the ‘Jason episode’ received a message from a resident on Blair Athol Road. He had seen the young man acting suspiciously on Sunday and decided to follow him. He went from Blair Athol to Hungtower roads then Murray to Greystones, Ranby to Carrington and finally Peveril to Rustlings. He had a box with him at Ranby but was throwing items away and then the box itself, possibly on Peveril but generally around the Greystones Road to Rustlings Road area. He appeared to be untroubled at being seen. The resident did find some of the items in a skip and went looking for others but is sure that other items will have been thrown over hedges and into gardens.
He called the police who reacted very quickly and were able to pick up the young man on Ecclesall Road. He had some things from the house on him and was arrested and taken to the police station. Notice of the arrest appeared briefly in yesterday’s Star.
It is now known that the young man had been released from prison just two days before. He had been convicted of burglary and had received a four year sentence of which he had served half and then let out on license. He has spent most of his adult life in prison and was desperate to go back. It provides for him the only stability and routine he has ever known in a life which has been chaotic. He has now appeared in court and has been sent back to prison for which he is delighted.
For us as a community, this episode shows how much we owe to one another in our daily lives. The attacks on property by this young man were simply random, wherever he thought a house was empty. Had the first house not bothered to put out a warning and the resident on Blair Athol not bothered to follow an individual acting suspiciously he would never have been caught and would have gone on to find other victims. Thankfully, we live in a community where we do keep an eye out for each other and where we don’t close our curtains to forget about the world outside our windows.
At the same time, we can spare a thought for the kind of lives that some people find themselves experiencing and the way our society deals with them. There is an element of tragedy here that anyone could find a routine and a stability in life only behind the walls of a prison. It’s likely that the only social contacts he has are to be found in the faces of others like himself and the people who control his world. That’s not in any way to excuse what he did or the anxiety he has inflicted on others but it is to remind ourselves that there are others who are not so fortunate in their circumstances as we are who live in one of the best and most neighbourly parts of the city.