AN ANXIOUS relative has offered a £2,000 reward to catch burglars who targeted the home of his 98-year-old aunt.
William Seymour, who is originally from Church and now lives in South Africa, was horrified when £5,500-worth of jewellery was stolen from her home in Manor Street, Accring-ton, two weeks ago.
His aunt, who has been in hospital since the incident, was at a day centre when the burglary took place, and Mr Seymour believes that the thieves had knowledge of her weekly routine.
She was picked up once a week by a bus provided by Age Concern and Dial-a-Ride, and two other women who use the service are also believed to have been targeted in recent weeks.
Mr Seymour, who was raised by his aunt after his mother died when he was six years old, said that he was now determined to see the thieves who raided her house put behind bars.
He said: "They see these people getting on the bus once a week and know that they are going to be away for two to three hours.
"All three elderly ladies ended up in hospital through stress and fear as a result of these burglaries. It is a miracle that none of them are in a critical condition. Obviously they will never feel secure in their own homes again.
"I am prepared to give a reward of £2,000 if the perpetrator is caught and charged."
The victim's daughter, who did not want to be named, said that the burglars had taken a lot of valuable family heirlooms, including gold rings, bracelets and necklaces.
She added: "They took a lot of items that my mother wanted to hand down to her grandchildren, and we're both very upset about it.
"She was all right for a couple of days after the burglary, but then she collapsed with a chest infection. I think it must have been delayed shock as well. She's lost a lot of confidence - she was very independent before."
Sergeant Claire Holbrook, of Accrington Police, said that they were still trying to trace the burglar, who targeted the property between 10.30am and 4pm on Thursday 13 November.
She said that he entered the property by forcing open a ground-floor window and left through the back, and she warned residents not to leave keys visible in their back doors.