Disabled man's Facebook friends steal £12,000 in jewellery from his home
Thieves stole £12,000 in jewellery from a disabled man after he met them on Facebook and invited them to play video games with him at his parents' house while he was home alone.
Paul Miller, 28, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, has been left traumatised by his ordeal after the two men stole from his house in Bickerstaffe, Lancashire, after spending weeks speaking to him on the social networking site.
After arriving at the house, one of the men went upstairs, taking jewellery and about £250 in cash, an iPad and an iPod, while the other kept Mr Miller in one room.
Mr Miller’s mother Lorraine and stepfather Marty Heggarty returned home to find him in a state of shock and thousands of pounds worth of items gone.
She said: ‘Paul was very distressed. We had to take him to hospital after it had happened. It’s quite remote where we live and Paul uses Facebook to chat to people and make friends.
‘He’d been talking to two lads from Kirkby and while we were out shopping he asked if they wanted to come round and play on the PlayStation with him.
‘I think when they realised he was on his own they got a taxi up here straight away.
‘When they got to the house one of the men asked to use the toilet. Paul could hear him walking upstairs even though the bathroom is next door to his room.
‘When Paul asked the other one what he was doing he kept Paul in the room and wouldn’t let him out. He was stuck in there for about 10 minutes then the man came back and they just left.’
Mr Heggarty said the men knew Mr Miller was disabled.
He said: ‘He’d been talking to these lads on Facebook for a couple of weeks and they knew he was disabled. They have just taken advantage of Paul.’
Since his traumatic experience, Mr Miller has lost all his confidence.
Mr Heggarty said: ‘He won’t go out unless we’re with him and he doesn’t want to be in the house on his own.
‘It has changed his personality. His confidence has gone.
‘Paul does voluntary work three days a week but now we have to make sure someone’s in the house when he gets back because he doesn’t want to be here alone.
‘Paul’s stepbrother died on September 3. They were the same age and had grown up together. His stepbrother had an accident three years ago and had been living in hospital but we used to go and see him regularly.
‘Paul was devastated when he died and now this has happened and it has set him back again.’
A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said a 19-year-old man from the Kirkby area had been arrested and bailed in connection with the incident.
Mr Heggarty said some of the jewellery had sentimental value and was irreplaceable.
He said: ‘A lot of the things they took had sentimental value. They stole watches that belonged to my wife’s father, who died before Christmas.
‘Now we’ve been told by our insurance company we were under-insured so we’ll probably be lucky to get a third of the value back.’
The police are appealing for anyone with information to contact police.