Dartmouth Park great-grandmother, 99, loses life savings to bogus call thieves

Edith Sell, 99, with the jewellery box emptied by the thieves. Picture: Polly Hancock

Edith Sell, 99, with the jewellery box emptied by the thieves. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A 99-year-old great-grandmother will struggle to afford even a cup of coffee on her annual getaway next month after thieves posing as workmen ransacked her home and stole her life savings.

Retired waitress and cleaner Edith Sell, who has lived in Dartmouth Park nearly all her life, lost thousands of pounds and all her most valuable jewellery in the distraction burglary the day before her 99th birthday.

She has now spoken out for the first time about the “frightening” experience, which has left her struggling financially ahead of her annual pre-paid break to Norfolk in July.

Widowed Mrs Sell, who lives alone, said: “Sometimes I go into my bedroom and I can see them standing there, counting out my money.

“I don’t trust anybody who rings my bell. It’s terrible. I feel numb and I keep saying to myself: why me?” she added.

“I worked up until the age of 74 and never asked anything of anybody. I’ve got nothing left. I don’t want to go on holiday now if I can’t even afford to buy a cup of coffee.”

Two bogus callers convinced Mrs Sell to let them into her home by claiming to check her water supply back in mid-January.

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In a cruel twist, she had phoned her housing association earlier that day and was told that workmen would be coming round to fix her boiler.

The thieves asked Mrs Sell to check her kitchen taps while they plundered her bedroom and living room. They took six weeks’ worth of her pension, £900 of holiday money, an envelope filled with £5 notes for her 13 great-grandchildren, as well as jewellery - including her engagement ring and rings belonging to her late mother.

Mrs Sell believes that, in total, she lost about £4,500 worth of valuables and money, which she accumulated over the course of her life.

The incident left her virtually penniless, and barely able to afford her annual retreat to the Norfolk resort where she has stayed every year since 1947.

“The policeman said they must have been watching this place for weeks,” Mrs Sell said. “It’s scary.

“If I had seen them, they would have knocked me to the floor and the shock might have killed me.”

The burglary saw Mrs Sell admitted to the Royal Free Hospital with a racing heart.

No arrests have been made.

A police investigation was closed earlier this year pending further information. Contact police on 101 with any information.

Can you help Mrs Sell enjoy her holiday next month? Donate online.