Intruders returned to steal from Duns couple after police left

A Duns pensioner is warning householders to watch out for intruders after hundreds of pounds worth of artefacts and tools were stolen from his property.

By Kevin McRoberts
Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 7:00 am
One of Cass Cassidy’s African carvings, similar to those taken by thieves.
One of Cass Cassidy’s African carvings, similar to those taken by thieves.

Cass Cassidy, of McLaren Court, believes police officers were too dismissive when he first reported suspicious characters outside his home.

Late on Friday night, Mr Cassidy called police after spotting two strangers outside his home, one of them appearing to come from the rear of the property.

Around 30-45 minutes later, two officers arrived at his door, followed by two more officers with torches who had a look around.

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With no one obviously visible, Mr Cassidy said the officers told him it had probably been just a couple of people “lost and inebriated”.

However, Mr Cassidy strongly disputed this, saying: “I insisted these two strangers were on a mission and were up to serious mischief, but the police were not convinced and departed.”

Mr Cassidy stayed up after the incident, and was sitting in his lounge when, shortly before 2am, he saw the same two strangers walking up his path.

He again called the police and when officers attended, Mr Cassidy said he became involved in a “heated discussion” with one of them who had been dismissive of his earlier complaint.

However, a search of the area around his home uncovered nothing suspicious and after the police left, Mr Cassidy retired to bed.

On Saturday morning, he found large storage boxes in his garden had been forced open with heavy padlocks broken and removed.

African mahogany tree carvings, and other items including electric tools, had been taken from the boxes.

Mr Cassidy, who again called the police after discovering the theft, said: “I was annoyed that I wasn’t taken more seriously the first time I called.

“It was clear these two darkly dressed strangers were not just lost and inebriated.

“They knew exactly what they were doing. They were on a mission.

“While I was checking exactly what had gone missing, one of our neighbours, who lives in a large house, told me that at around 2.30am, someone had climbed over their six-feet fence into their garden and tried to break in through their back door.

“When the police had left my house, he stopped one of the officers to report the incident at his house.”

Two of the African mahogany carvings taken from Mr Cassidy’s garden storage boxes were around 24 inches in height.

A third carving, around 12 inches high and 18 inches wide, was a head and shoulders sculpture of the former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Each of the carvings, said Mr Cassidy, was worth a three figure sum.

Other items taken included an electric drill, electric jig saw and two Mexican hammocks.

The carvings were brought back to Duns by Mr Cassidy following his time spent in Africa.

Together with his wife, he spent 30 years working and living in various countries in Africa.

After they retired, the couple spent 10 years doing voluntary work in Botswana, South Africa, Bangladesh and Ecuador.

Mr Cassidy’s love and interest in Africa led to him writing a number of books, including ‘Gaba Road’ and ‘Blind Man in Africa’.

He hopes the African carvings, and other items taken by the thieves, can be recovered and he is calling on anyone with information about the theft or the intruders to get in contact with the police.

A police spokesperson said: “We can confirm police are investigating a theft of items (including African carvings) from locked boxes in the garden of a home in McLarens Court, Duns, on Saturday, July 18.

“We can also confirm that police had been called on two previous occasions to the same address the night before the theft following a report of people, not known to the reporter, being in the area of the house.

“However, there was no trace of anyone following a search of the premises and suitable advice and assistance was given.

“We will arrange for a local community officer to visit the complainer to discuss any concerns he may have about the initial calls to the police.”

Anyone with information that may assist officers with their enquiry can contact police at Duns Police Station by calling 101. Please quote reference number 1660 of the 18th July 2020 when calling.