Islington vicar photographs intruder in his home...then realises his dead wife’s jewellery has been stolen

Rev Simon Harvey found this intruder in his house on Wednesday afternoon

Rev Simon Harvey found this intruder in his house on Wednesday afternoon - Credit: Archant

Grieving vicar Simon Harvey today told how he photographed a suspected burglar in his Upper Street home, moments before discovering his dead wife’s jewellery had been stolen.

Happier times: Rev Simon and Jennifer Harvey

Happier times: Rev Simon and Jennifer Harvey - Credit: Archant

Rev Harvey’s wife of 29 years and childhood sweetheart Jennifer died after a mystery illness just nine weeks ago. Now the five rings he had planned to keep “for the rest of my life” – including Jennifer’s engagement and wedding bands, as well as a ring exchanged when the pair were just 18 – are gone.

He did not see the man take anything, but feels sure the smooth-talking intruder is responsible.

“I was heartbroken,” Rev Harvey, 52, told the Gazette.

“That sudden discovery was like a body blow really. I think I just burst into tears in front of the police officers.

“I sobbed and sobbed last night.”

Rev Harvey, who works at St Mary’s Church, Islington, was working from his vicarage home on Wednesday afternoon when a sound in a second-floor room alerted him to the unwelcome visitor.

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“I went into the room and there he was – really close to me,” he said.

“He was very smooth. He told me he had permission to be in the building and was a contractor of some sort – and very cleverly he said somebody else had arranged it.

“I was just going through that in my mind, and he gently stepped past me and he was on his way out.”

Thanks to an app that allows him to take photographs without unlocking his smartphone, the quick-thinking reverend was able to grab a snap of the dark-haired man as he fled down the landing.

Asked what it would mean to get the rings back, Rev Harvey said: “It would mean a huge amount.

“I decided I wasn’t going to keep lots of things of Jennifer’s – I was particularly going go keep those rings for the rest of my life.

“I was going to share other possessions out among other people and charities, but those were for me and it would mean everything to get them back.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The suspect is described as a white man, 5ft 9ins tall, of medium build, with short, dark brown hair and facial stubble. He was wearing dark trousers and a grey T shirt with a white and black hoop design.

“Jewellery and cash had been stolen from an upstairs bedroom.

“Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is asked to call Islington CID on 101 quoting reference number 2712610/16.”