A COUPLE who returned from a birthday party to find their house had been broken into, have branded the road they live in “a burglar’s paradise”, due to street lights not working for nine weeks

Robert and Christine Bell, of Lansdowne, Sebastopol, Pontypool, went out for a meal with their family to celebrate Mrs Bell’s birthday last Saturday, but when they came home, they found the back door window had been smashed and Mrs Bell’s jewellery and two iPads stolen.

“Our lights on our estate have been off for about nine weeks,” said Mr Bell.

“We went out at 6.30pm on Saturday to celebrate my wife’s birthday. We got back at about 9pm, and that is when we found it.

“They tried to smash the back window but they couldn’t. They then smashed the window on the back door and climbed through.

“They went straight upstairs to the bedroom and went through all the drawers. They took a pillowcase and filled it with jewellery.

“They took two iPads too. Our daughter had just bought Christine a new one for her birthday.


“The things they didn’t want they just chucked on the floor. Some of the earrings have broken after they had stepped on them.

“They left the TV and a stack of Christmas presents for the grandkids that were in the front room.

“These last few days have hit us both hard. It’s ruined our Christmas. You just don’t think it will happen to you.

“We have been leaving the lights on when we sleep now. We can’t go to bed without it.

“In truth, we haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since.”

South Wales Argus:

The burglars attempted to break in to the couple's patio doors

“They took my mum’s wedding ring,” said Mrs Bell. “They took jewellery that was given to me for my birthday and for anniversaries.

“I’m not sure how much it was worth, but it to me it is irreplaceable.”

Mr Bell said he had been calling the council to report the problem since the lights first went out in October.

The couple are concerned the ongoing street light problem could be a health and safety problem for the elderly residents on the road.

“It’s been terrible for us, but it’s other people we are worried about,” said Mr Bell.

“We have some very elderly neighbours, and some of them live on their own.

“I was speaking to one of our neighbours, who is in their 90s, and they said they were afraid to leave the house after hearing what happened to us.”

South Wales Argus:

The smashed back door window

A Torfaen Council spokesman said: "The street light was first reported faulty on October 14. An underground fault was identified and the contractor visited the site on October 23.

"Several attempts to repair the fault have been undertaken but unfortunately due to the age of the cables and poor weather conditions, the repairs were unsuccessful and each repair only lasted a number of days.

"Subsequently, wider work in the area has been required , although other lights in the area have remained on.

"The job has been prioritised and a team attended today to try to resolve the issues. The street lighting team will continue to monitor the lighting in this area and will carry out further works if necessary to ensure the street lights remain on."

Gwent Police were called following the burglary, but officers were unable to attend until the following morning.

South Wales Argus:

Robert and Christine Bell's room following the burglary. Picture - Jules Bell

Chief Superintendent Steven Corcoran, in charge of policing in Torfaen, said: “We take our responsibility to victims extremely seriously. My officers are actively investigating this offence and will update the victims regularly as we carry out our enquiries.

“We receive a high volume of calls on Saturday evenings across the force and this weekend was no different with Torfaen officers dealing with a high number of emergency calls.

"Whilst we aim to respond to every report of a crime promptly, demands necessitate calls are prioritised based on the risk and threats posed.

“The victims were spoken to on Saturday evening by our force control room to advise them that we were experiencing a high volume of emergency calls and as a result we were unable to attend at their address immediately.

"Due to the time of night, we agreed with the victims that they would go to bed and local officers would attend first thing in the morning.

"Appropriate safety advice was provided.

“I would urge anyone with any information which could assist the investigation to report it to us via 101 or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please remember to call 999 in the event of an emergency.”