War veteran's anger at 'inhuman' thieves

A BRAVE war veteran spoke of his despair last night after "inhuman" thieves tricked their way into his flat and stole more than £250.Ted Bacon, who is 85, survived horrific treatment and conditions as a prisoner of war in Singapore during the Second World War.

A BRAVE war veteran spoke of his despair last night after "inhuman" thieves tricked their way into his flat and stole more than £250.

Ted Bacon, who is 85, survived horrific treatment and conditions as a prisoner of war in Singapore during the Second World War.

But last night he was left cursing "despicable" bogus callers who struck at his Suffolk home - taking his money and savings book.

It was the second time in just four years the veteran had been targeted by thieves.

Last night, the support group, Children of Far East Prisoners of War, said it was appalled by the crime.

Mr Bacon served with the 5th Suffolk Regiment and spent four years in enemy hands. Prisoners endured vicious beatings, horrific living conditions, deadly diseases and slave labour.

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Carol Cooper, chairman of CFEPW, said last night: "Whoever did this is completely inhuman and mindless. Were it not for men like Mr Bacon, these people would not even be living in a free world today.

"What can you say to people like that - anyone who targets an elderly person is just scum.

"Conditions for prisoners of war in the Far East were absolutely horrendous and truly horrific."

The conmen struck at around 4.30pm on Monday while Mr Bacon was reading in his flat in Elizabeth Court - a sheltered housing complex in East Street, Sudbury, run by Babergh District Council.

One let himself into the building and began a conversation with his victim, with a second sneaking in while the former soldier was distracted and taking cash and the bank book.

It is thought the thieves sneaked through the complex's front doors, which are operated by an intercom system, when somebody else was leaving or entering the block.

However the door to Mr Bacon's flat had been left unlocked.

"I was sitting reading and all of a sudden I realised there was somebody standing behind me," said Mr Bacon.

"I asked who he was and he said he was from the social services. I asked for a pass or identification and he said he didn't have any, and would go and see the warden.

"Like a fool I just let him walk out - which was when I realised there was somebody else standing near the door. By then, it was just too late."

Mr Bacon estimates the thieves stole around £260, which was inside his wallet, along with his bank book - which he quickly cancelled to prevent further fraud.

He added: "I do not know how they got in, but I just assumed he was a genuine social worker.

"I should not have to lock my door, as nobody should not be able to get through the front door. It is not very satisfactory - it should be safe enough for me to leave my own door open.

"I am more annoyed about this than anything. A lot of money was taken, but I just thank god the bank book was cancelled immediately. I just think this is low and despicable."

Mr Bacon was first targeted in his home around four years ago, when thieves stole money from his flat while he was sleeping. A female resident living at the same complex also became a victim on the same occasion.

Since that incident, the intercom system has been fitted at Elizabeth Court, with bosses at Babergh District Council saying extra security has also been introduced in individual flats.

Chris Foti, head of housing at the council, said: "We have recently installed extra security on all individual flats, as well as issuing advice to residents to be cautious about strangers calling on them and general security measures.

"The main entry point into the Court is only accessible via the intercom system. The scheme manager is also on-hand 24-hours a day should residents be concerned about any issue.

"We constantly review the situation and are grateful to residents, their relatives and the local media for helping to identify possible improvements."

Acting Det Sgt John Gibbens, of Suffolk Police, described the incident as "despicable", and appealed for elderly and vulnerable people to always check the identification of anyone calling at their door.

"These offenders know they are stealing from older people and in some cases, are taking their life savings, and just do not care. They seek out these people because they are vulnerable."

He added: "We would also advise people not to keep a lot of cash in their homes and to use a bank instead. These offenders will find money, no matter how well it is hidden."

He is appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident, or has any other information about the offence, to contact him on 01284 774333.

He is also keen to hear from anyone else who has been approached by a caller claiming to be from the social services when no prior appointment has been made.

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