Burglars take 100-year-old jewellery, cash and car from elderly Alfred Cove couple

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Caitlyn RintoulThe West Australian
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VideoBurglars have swiped century-old heirloom jewellery less than a metre from a sleeping elderly Alfred Cove couple, in a near-miss escape police were relieved didn’t escalate after a spate of attacks on senior citizens.

Burglars have swiped century-old heirloom jewellery less than a metre from a sleeping elderly Alfred Cove couple, in a near-miss escape police were relieved didn’t escalate after a spate of attacks on senior citizens.

Along with precious jewellery, a car was stolen from war veteran John Ibbotson, 96, and his wife Patricia , 92, when their George Street home was robbed in the early hours of Friday morning.

Within minutes, thieves withdrew at least $2000 from a number of bank cards that were in Ms Ibbotson’s purse alongside about $200 in cash, while at a nearby Marmion Street service station in Booragoon getting fuel.

An avid reader of The West Australian, Mr Ibbotson said he followed with disgust the horrific bashing of East Cannington pensioner Emiliano Lombardi, 84, who died in hospital after a fortnight fighting for his life.

Mr Lombardi had woken to a disturbance at his Henry Street home in August and went outside to investigate before he was violently slashed with pieces of broken mirror.

“We slept through the whole thing and the police said that was very good that we didn't get knocked around,” Mr Ibbotson said of his break-in.

“But knowing someone has come into your home while you’re sleeping gives you a queer feeling. They would have been less than a metre from the bed.

“I feel terrible because we have the locks recommended by everyone and they just come in as though there are no locks anyway. They just came in the door. What else do you do?

“The only thing I could think of is to put a couple of shooting bolts on either side of the door from the from to the back.”

Usually waking four times a night, Mr Ibbotson said he was fortunately having a “good night”, only rousing twice — once at about 3am and then close to 4am — which is when the couple believe was when the intruders struck.

Along with a 1920s three-diamond gold ring that belonged to Ms Ibbotson’s mother, thieves took the engagement ring she received from her beau on April 17, 1947.

Celebrating their 71st anniversary this year, the couple said it was a blow that sentimental pieces such as eternity rings were among the pieces taken.

“If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry,” Ms Ibbotson said.

John Ibbotson, 96, with wife Patrica, 92, at their Alfred Cove home that was burgled while they slept.
Camera IconJohn Ibbotson, 96, with wife Patrica, 92, at their Alfred Cove home that was burgled while they slept. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

“There was a little cross and chain that my aunt had given to me when I was five and I'm 92-years-old so that's very valuable and that went. My grandmother’s garnet and gold ring, that's gone.”

“I can’t understand how it didn’t rouse us. I would say there was definitely more than one of them to do all that.”

There have been no reports of the 2002 white Ford Fairlane and police are continuing to investigate the identity of those involved.

Fitted to the car was a custom-made bracket for Mr Ibbotson’s walking frame — which he needs to get around daily.

“They got out $1000 to begin with and then a couple of $500 (withdrawals) as far as I know. The was also a MasterCard and they’ve taken a whole heap of little (amounts) out of there, “ Ms Ibbotson said.

“Then the bank blocked the cards. They’ve now been rejected a number of times.”

The couple's car that was taken from their home while they slept.
Camera IconThe couple's car that was taken from their home while they slept. Credit: WA Police/WA Police
The couple's car that was taken from their home while they slept.
Camera IconThe couple's car that was taken from their home while they slept. Credit: WA Police/WA Police

Not taken were Mr Ibbotson and his father’s nine war medallions, which were hanging in plain sight in a room left in chaos from the rummaging.

Serving from 1942 to 1946 in II World War, Mr Ibbotson joined the Air Force at 18-years-old and was a wireless operator “air gunner” across Italy in a B-24 Liberator — a four-engine heavy bomber.

He returned to Perth in late 1946 on the “Stirling Castle” ship, where he met Ms Ibbotson and proposed six months later.

Mr Ibbotson had followed in his father’s footsteps who was part of the 16th Australian Infantry Battalion, which served across France and Belgium from 1916 to 1918.

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