A NEWPORT pensioner says he’s now penniless after two men stole his life savings, as well as irreplaceable war records, jewellery and even his birth certificate.

The distraction burglary happened just days after 85-year-old Harry Linton returned from hospital, having had most of one lung removed.

Mr Linton was at his Ringland home with his neighbour on the afternoon of April 18 when a man knocked at his front door, asking if he could cut through to a house at the back of the property.

Mr Linton, who has lived at his home for more than 50 years, showed the man through and was waiting for him to return while - unbeknownst to him - a second man snuck upstairs and stole a briefcase full of cash, his late wife Audrey’s jewellery, family Army service medals from both World Wars, including his father’s, a collection of watches, a 21-carat gold sovereign ring and his late wife’s engagement and wedding rings.

Although the jewellery was insured, he had saved the cash to pay for his funeral costs, he said.

The thieves made off with a 1930s German mouth organ, a silver money box containing old sixpences, signed photographs of film stars, a copy of Mr Linton’s will, and his army discharge books.

The family contacted the Army who said the remainder of Mr Linton’s father’s war records had been lost in a fire.

“It upset me,” said Mr Linton, who lost his wife in 2000. “It made me bad for a day or two after.

“The neighbours have been good as gold, they were shocked, and my sons were gutted.

“People scrimp and save and then a couple of lazy so-and-so’s come and pinch it. That’s what galls me. It’s hard to get that sort of money.”

Mr Linton said nothing like this has happened in the area before, but a neighbour was also the victim of a distraction burglary in the same month.

“This is a safe area, it’s one of the best places on the whole estate,” said the former painter and decorator.

“I’m still feeling it because it was a lot of money to lose.

“If I could only get the briefcase back with the paperwork in, I would love to have that back because there was a copy of my will,” he said.

“There were a lot of lovely photos of my wife’s family and my own.

“I’ve had the locks changed and won’t let anyone through the door. Once bitten twice shy.”

Two Newport men, aged 44 and 47 were arrested on suspicion of the burglaries and bailed pending inquiries.

Anyone with information is asked to call Gwent Police on the non-emergency number, 101.

Gwent Police have given the following advice to try and help residents not to fall foul of distraction burglars:

l Check the identity of the caller by telephoning the company they say they are from. Use the telephone number in your local directory or provided by your service provider;

l Check whether traders are members of the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme or Government Trust Mark scheme;

l Ask a neighbour or friend nearby to check out the caller before you open the door or agree to have work done;

l Don’t be pressurised into having work done on the spot

l Never pay cash up front and never go to a bank or cash point with a trader;

l If you suspect a rogue trader at your door, call 999.