HERO'S MEDALS STOLEN
A GROUP of have-a-go heroes have been praised by a local family, after they gave chase to a group of callous thieves through Ashton.
Gary O’Farrell and his team from Rise and Shine Window Cleaners were working around Mellor Road at around 3.30pm on Thursday, when they spotted three ‘suspicious-looking’ men hurrying down a nearby alleyway.
The thieves were carrying a 40-inch television and several other items.
Realising something wasn’t right, Gary and his four colleagues jumped into action and began trying to track the men down.
Minutes later, they caught them – causing the men to abandon the television, an Xbox and a laptop.
But the heartless thugs, thought to live somewhere nearby, managed to get away with priceless war medals, jewellery with sentimental value, Xbox games, a Google Nexus One phone and a silver iPod Classic, most of which had been bought as presents.
Now the family whose home was burgled have paid tribute to the eagle-eyed window cleaners.
Liam Billington, whose family home is thought to have been crow-barred open, explained that it was his teenage brother, James, who first discovered that the house had been ransacked.
He said: “James went in and found the TV wasn’t there.
“He could see that the door was open, so looked in the kitchen and found it had been crow-barred open.
“James was in hysterics thinking someone could still be in the house.”
Local PCSO, Lisa Riley, was on nearby Currier Lane at the time, and she picked up the call on her radio.
Liam continued: “While this was going on, our window cleaner, Gary, was doing the windows on Chadwick Street.
“He spotted three men walking up the ginnel with our 40” Samsung TV, Laptop, Xbox 360 with games and a jewellery case.
“He saw that an old lady on Chadwick Street had her door wide open, so he asked her if they had stolen from her.
“She said there was someone at the back messing about.
“He sent his two lads to go and ask what they were doing, but they dropped the items and ran off.
“One of the window cleaners had one of the lads on the floor, but then one of the thieves wrestled off him and got away.”
He added: “Gary and his workers are heroes in all of this.
“If it wasn’t for them, they would have got away with everything.”
But Gary, who has been working in the area for 20 years, dismissed the praise, adding: “We did what anybody would have done.”
Now the family are hoping locals – including traders who deal in second-hand items – will keep an eye out for the precious war medals and jewellery that was not recovered.
Liam continued: “I’m really upset as these medals were passed down to me from my granddad and it’s the only thing I have of his.
“My grandad was so precious to me.
“My dad would work away, so he would pick me up from school and take me on trips.
“I really enjoyed the time I had with him as a child.”
The medals were awarded to Liam’s late grandfather, George Johnson, who served in the Royal Navy.
They are distinctive as he had stars on them for service in Burma.
The thieves also got away with an 18-carot gold ring with three small diamonds on top, which was Liam’s grandmother’s engagement ring.
They also took a signet ring belonging to his grandfather, which is a gold band with a blue, oval top, with the three ‘Legs of Man’ on it.
A rare coin collection is also missing.
The men who carried out the cold-hearted attack are thought to be between the ages of 16 and 22.
One is said to be short, with shaven ginger hair, and was wearing a grey tracksuit at the time.
Another was taller with dark hair, wearing a black tracksuit and trainers. He also had a black eye.
Police are now looking into the incident, but have CCTV footage of the men and are conducting forensic testing on a glove that was left at the scene.
Anybody with information is asked to contact GMP on non-emergency number, 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Liam added: “If you are a parent and one of your sons matches the above description, do the right thing and turn them in. They didn’t earn those medals, my grandad did.”