Brave detective work by a victim of a harrowing burglary has led to the culprit being jailed for more than two years.
Assistant headteacher Zoe Bloodworth stopped neighbour Ross Peters in the street to ask him if he’d spotted the sick criminals who’d wrecked her house and stolen £7,000 worth of her most treasured possessions the previous day.
It was only as she came face-to-face with evil Peters that she realised his was the image captured on her CCTV as ‘lookout man’ for the crime.
“He looked me in the eyes, shook his head and told me he knew nothing. There was no remorse,” said 32-year-old Zoe.
“He was even wearing the same Superdry jacket. There was no doubt it was him.”
Clever Zoe knew she had to tell police rather than confront Peters, so she managed to carry on a conversation about the burglary at her Kempston home.
“I even explained in desperation that the items which were taken had belonged to my late grandmother, to which he replied ‘My nan died too,’” she said.
Afterwards Zoe, who works at Lidlington’s Thomas Johnson Lower School, gave Peters’ name and address to police. “At first I didn’t think they were taking me very seriously,” she said. “But then one officer, DC Anoop Nandre, was outstanding. He refused to give up until Ross Peters was convicted.”
Last week 41-year-old Peters was jailed for 27 months for his part in the burglary, which took place in January this year.
The court heard how the home Zoe shared with her sister was “ransacked” and thousands of pounds worth of property was stolen - including precious and sentimental jewellery inherited from their grandmother who had died just months previously.
The burglar, who is still unknown, spent 45 minutes plundering every inch of the house while Peters acted as lookout. Disturbingly, the crooks even left a large knife by the door in case the women returned.
Zoe and her sister are still living with the psychological scars of the burglary today.
“I have flashbacks about what happened. I have nightmares about people breaking into my home and it all happening again. I hear every noise, every sound, and at one point I felt that I couldn’t even sit down in my own home for fear of not being ready for what might happen next. I cannot relax,” said Zoe..
“I was affected so badly I was unable to concentrate on daily life. I was sent home from work on several occasions for two weeks after the incident but I was too frightened to stay at home on my own so I went to stay with my mum.”
The fact that Peters was a neighbour and acquainted with Zoe through an old school friend, made the situation even worse, she said.
“I would have described Ross as someone I would have waved to as I drove past him or I would have said ‘Hi’ if he had walked past me in the street. I was in total shock that he had done this to me.”
Zoe added: “He (the look-out) allowed the burglar to create the devastation which was caused that day. He enabled the burglar to take his time, work his way through my belongings methodically so that every single jewellery item, handbag, piece of precious jewellery from my grandmother was taken to feed their needs, habits or whatever the reason is which burglars and thieves target innocent people
“I ask myself every day “Why me?” I have only been kind to people my whole life. Why did you pick me that day Ross? Deep down you know you did wrong and I hope you are given consequences to match the pain and suffering you have caused me.”
Peters pleaded guilty to burglary and Judge Andrew Bright praised Zoe’s victim statement for being so powerful and descriptive.