Published: 00:01, 17 October 2014
An 81-year-old grandfather is being repeatedly terrorised by burglars who stole £10,000 of his life savings.
Three men in balaclavas have targeted Derek Poulteney's home in Oare, near Faversham, eight times.
Known to most in the area as the “vegetable man” because of the delivery service he runs, Mr Poulteney has been left distressed and frustrated after police failed numerous times to catch the thugs, despite handing officers CCTV footage of the culprits.
And this week, his house in Oare was targeted yet again.
Derek said: “I popped down to The Castle for my tea, leaving the house for just over an hour.
"I don’t want the buggers to drive me out of my own home. I love it here” - Derek Poulteney
“I was back by 2pm but in that time, they’d got me again and as I was pulling into my driveway, my neighbours were calling the police…but it was too late.
“They got disturbed early so they didn’t nick anything but the damage was awful. They tore out all the alarms, smashed the two CCTV cameras and pulled out all the wiring.
“I have already paid out for someone to fix the camera but I’d imagine I’m looking at about £500 worth of damage and that’s without them snatching anything.”
It isn’t the first time Derek has faced payouts for the damage and big bills for replacing his tools – everything from secateurs to spades, his television to his life savings have all been snatched by the heartless thieves.
Derek is well-known in Oare and Faversham for his vegetable delivery service, which he says he does purely for enjoyment, not for making a living.
He has a round dropping boxes of greens on doorsteps throughout the town, but made the mistake of keeping all his takings in a safety box.
He said: “It was terrible. I thought that box was as safe as houses but they took it and I never got that back.
“I had CCTV of the guys who stole it but they were all wearing masks.
“But they are always coming back. They seem to know when I’m not here.”
Derek says he has had little response from the police even though he is certain it is the same group of men, aged between 19 and 20, responsible.
He feels he is just fobbed off with a crime reference number each time and that police never follow it up.
One case was taken to court and the culprit had to pay out £1 a week, but Derek says he has only had about a fiver over the last year.
He added: “I’m not frightened but it’s so petty.
“I just want it to stop. I want the police to make it stop or I’m taking it further.
“It’s not at all fair. I feel like I have to lock up everything everytime I go anywhere. It’s no way to live.
“But I don’t want the buggers to drive me out of my own home. I love it here.”
Since March 2004, 10 burglary related crimes have been reported at a property in Colegates Road, Oare.
Of these three cases were taken to court and resulted in a conviction. One further case resulted in an arrest but the suspect was released without charge. The remaining cases were undetected due to lack of evidence.
Kent Police say the latest incident, which happened between 1.40pm and 2pm on Wednesday October, 8 is part of an ongoing investigation in which officers are following a number of lines of enquiries, including reviewing CCTV footage.
Insp Kay Maynard said: "We take every reported incident seriously and are committed to putting victims first. Officers follow all lines of inquiry to bring those responsible before the courts.
"Furthermore, a new Kent Police Rural Task Force is being launched later this month, to prevent and detect crime in our rural communities.
"Dedicated officers will work together as a coordinated unit, targeting those who commit crime and listening to the concerns of people living in rural Kent."
Anyone with information is asked to call PC Ryan Chase on calling 01795 419329 quoting reference XY/035734/14. Alternatively call Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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