A SCHOOLGIRL was left in tears on her ninth birthday after heartless thieves stole her birthday money.

The crooks also swiped a Spongebob Square Pants money box that contained just £2.80, which belonged to Molly Cleavely’s six-year-old sister Lilly.

Their dad Paul, 37, said Molly was “absolutely devastated” when they got home on her birthday on Monday, February 18 and discovered the family home in The Upway, off Honeypot Lane, in Basildon, had been burgled and £65, which Molly had been given, was gone.

The thieves forced their way into the house by forcing the front door and ransacked Paul and his wife Anna’s bedroom stealing jewellery, including Anna’s engagement ring, and four watches belonging to Paul.

He said: “The kids were absolutely distraught.

“Molly sobbed her heart out, but she is clever and I’ve told her nothing else will happen. Lilly was more scared and worried about people coming back in the house.

“I’m absolutely fuming, but now it’s a case of feeling down too because people have been into our home and stolen things that are dear to us.

“The weird thing is we walked through the front door and nothing was different for about 20 minutes, the dog was a bit strange and he had wet himself which he never does, but he is old so I didn’t think anything of it.”

The Breitling watch is worth between £5,500 and £7,000 and a gold Sekonda watch, which Paul said is worthless, but was left to him by his grandad. was also taken.

He said his Brietling watch is distinctive in that it has clock hands, but the face is a 24-hour clock. A necklace and sovereign ring that he was given for his 21st birthday were also stolen.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said the burglary happened between 12pm and 7.30pm.

She said house-to-house inquiries have been carried out, but urged anyone with information should contact Basildon police station on 101.