A BURGLARY victim feels the big streetlight switch-off in Brentwood was a contributing factor to thieves targeting his home - and stealing two precious wedding rings.
Sentimental jewellery were stolen from John Patterson’s house in Goodwood Avenue, Hutton, while the 67-year-old and his wife Theresa were on holiday in Lanzarote.
Among the goods taken, between March 25 and April 1, was a wedding ring which the retired grandfather of two took off his mother’s hand after she died.
A collection of watches, 22-carot gold cufflinks and his grandmother’s wedding ring from 1899 were also stolen after thieves smashed their way through the home’s back doors.
Mr Patterson said the break-in has left him sickened and believes Essex County Council money saving part-night lighting scheme, introduced last month, did not help.
He said: “The thing is these are items you cannot simply replace, they are unique.
“I know people will probably say it can act as a deterant to crooks, but I don’t think the light switch-off has helped at all.
“It is the fear of crime that gets you most.
“When my wife and I went to get in the car at 3.15am to drive to Gatwick, it was literally pitch black and very few lights were on anywhere.
“We ended up having to use torches just to get to our car and I think it is clear the council has not thought about this enough.”
David Kendall, Lib Dem county councillor for Brentwood South, shares theses concerns, saying the decision to switch lights off should be reversed.
Mr Kendall said: “The potential increase in crime and antisocial behaviour is one of the reasons why I have been challenging the decision to switch of our lights at a borough and a county level over the last year.”
Bosses at Essex County Council said they were sorry to hear about the incident and will be working with Essex Police.
A spokesman said: “This is a police matter.
“We will work closely with the force if they provide representation regarding an area that they believe should be exempt from the part-night lighting scheme.”
Anyone with information about the break-in or who has been offered jewellery items is asked to call PC Adam McRobbie on 101 or Crimerstoppers on 0800 555111.