Thief targets Archway pensioner, 83, for second time

Harry Nechell, 83, was robbed for the second time in two months on Monday afternoon

Harry Nechell, 83, was robbed for the second time in two months on Monday afternoon - Credit: Archant

Burglar strikes again after taking life savings three months earlier

A partially blind pensioner with Parkinson’s disease was robbed whilst he slept in his armchair – for the second time in three months.

It’s believed the same burglar returned to 83-year-old Harry Nechell’s flat in Ash Court, in Junction Road, Archway, and went to the identical spot from which his life savings of more than £5,000 were stolen in April.

This time, three week’s worth of pension payments amounting to about £500, were taken as the brazen thief broke into the former policeman’s property after gaining entry through a security door to the sheltered housing block of 29 residents on Monday afternoon.

It is understood that, the on duty warden left her 9am to 5pm shift that day at 11am in the morning after contacting management to tell them of a computer system failure, allowing the thief to slip in unnoticed.

The second burglary came just days before CCTV cameras were due to be installed in the block after Centra, which manages the block, was accused of not doing enough to protect vulnerable elderly residents in the wake of the first devastating theft.

Mr Nechell, who has lived in Islington for 59 years, said the second incident has left him feeling very “shaken up.”

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“It’s made me feel very nervous. I’m hoping the police will catch him so this won’t happen again.”

Denise Kane, Mr Nechell’s daughter, said: “I want to see heads roll over this. It’s really shocked me and the other residents who live here.

“This is not sheltered accommodation, these vulnerable residents like my dad are not being protected.

“Everyone loves my dad, they all know him. For something like this to happen to him again because of Centra’s failure is absolutely disgusting.”

Ms Kane, 56, who lives in Muswell Hill, is now campaigning to get the sheltered block transferred to the management of Islington Council with the backing of other concerned residents and their relatives.

Ella Humphries, 81, who also lives in the same block and is a close friend of Mr Nechell, said: “I’ve lived here for four years and for someone to do this again to poor Harry is very bad. I’m very worried.”

Other relatives as well as councillors have joined Ms Kane’s calls for better security.

Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing and deputy leader of the council, said: “To me this is an evil crime, it’s terrible that Harry has been targeted again.

“I will be taking up the issue of why the warden wasn’t on duty with Centra. The council as a whole will be fully investigating this.

“Wardens and CCTV are part of the answer, but they’re not the whole answer. There is no easy answer to how we can make vulnerable people feel more secure, a lot of it is about making people more aware of the kind of scams thieves might use to target them.”

Allyson Kay, managing director at Centra Care and Support, said that it was “ultimately” residents’ responsibility to store valuables safely and keep homes secure. But she added: “We take this kind of incident extremely seriously and are fully assisting the police in their investigation. As well as offering residents protection through a 24 hour emergency alarm service installed in each of their homes, we are also fitting CCTV as an extra security measure.”