AN ARMED thief stole a wreath from the front door of a Leigh home....and returned minutes later to break in.
The crook was caught on CCTV as he cut down the home-made Christmas decoration using a knife.
He then left the house in Woodside and jumped into a white van with his pal, only to return and stick his arm through the letterbox.
The home-owner, who would not be named, said: “They got disturbed by my wife, although she wasn’t aware that she disturbed them.
“If she had been there about five seconds later he would have been in the hallway of our house, and he had a knife.
“Can you imagine having to think about that? I’m a little bit rattled about it.”
The family noticed the wreath was missing on Sunday morning [16th] and looked back through the footage.
They had installed the cameras because of a series of crimes in their street - which suffered 15 burglaries last year.
After seeing the crooks in action they realised what a close call they’d had.
They later found out a neighbour had their wreath stolen the same night. They found the ordeal particularly upsetting as they had made the wreath out of ornaments they had bought on various holidays. It was particularly distiinctive as it includes several ceramic red and white toadstools.
The victim said: “It’s supposed to be a time for trust and goodwill, so what is this all about? You do end up lacking in faith in human nature.”
The Echo has reported on a series of thefts of Christmas decorations over the last fortnight.
The victim added: “Both the wreaths they’ve stolen are home-made, so I think the person who took them specifically for a boot sale.
“They are not a £10 Tesco green one with a red bow, I think they see it as easy pickings. People will pay big money for Christmas stuff.”
The crooks were driving a white Mercedes Vito Van and struck at a few minutes after midnight on December 16.
Anyone with information should call Southend police on 101.