96-year-old veteran Molly Luke CREDIT SWNS
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96-Year-Old Veteran Chases Thief Out Of Her Home

The family believes that the burglar had been watching Mrs Luke for some time before committing the offence.

96-year-old veteran Molly Luke CREDIT SWNS

Mrs Luke is described as a “force of nature” by her family (Picture: SWNS).

A 96-year-old war veteran chased a thief out of her home after he stole more than £100,000 of jewellery.

Molly Luke, who is partially deaf and blind, woke up when the burglar shone a torch in her face.

Mrs Luke, who built munitions during the Second World War, chased the intruder down the stairs, but he managed to flee.

The family is now offering a substantial reward to anyone who can reunite the veteran with her prize jewellery.

Thief breaks into 96-year-old veteran Molly Luke's house (Picture SWNS)
Mrs Luke says the intruder was a man but was unable to provide more details about him (Picture: SWNS).

Mrs Luke, of Churchdown in Gloucestershire, says she has lost “60 years of memories'' following the raid at around 8pm on Thursday night.

She added: “I was lying down in my bedroom because my back was in pain.

“I could hear some banging but I didn’t think it was anything.

"I just thought it was something outside.

“Then there were some noises inside but I thought it was my neighbour, who has a key.”

The man then sneaked into Mrs Luke’s guest bedroom and picked up three decorative boxes filled with jewellery, as well as some other jewellery loose on the dressing table.

These included a pair of black sapphire and diamond earrings, an 18-karat gold necklace with a black sapphire cross, an 18-karat gold bracelet with a locket containing a picture of her husband Vic - who died in 1994 - six or seven rings, some including rubies, diamonds and sapphires.

He then went into her bedroom and shone a torch in her face while she lay in bed.

When she started asking him who they were and if they knew each other, the burglar ran down the stairs and out of the home.

Mrs Luke pursued the man and started shouting out of the back door after him.

Kelly Denham-Reid, her great-niece, said: "That jewellery was her way of remembering her late husband and nephew. I can’t tell you how awful this is.

"This man has taken away 60 years of memories."

Mrs Luke then walked to a neighbour’s house in her dressing gown and stayed there for the night.

She says the intruder was a man but was unable to provide more details about him.

Police were called at 8.20pm and are investigating the incident.

Thief breaks into 96-year-old veteran Molly Luke's house (Picture SWNS)
The man entered Mrs Luke’s home while she was in bed (Picture: SWNS).

Ms Denham-Reid was informed of the offence first thing on Friday morning and came straight from her home in Silverton, Devon, with her husband Richard.

She said: “It’s horrendous, just disgusting. This is a woman who worked in a munitions factory – an incredible, formidable woman.

“She is shaken up but she hasn’t let it beat her, she is from that generation.

“We’ve asked her if she wants to come back to Devon with us but she will not give up her independence and won’t leave the house.”

Mrs Luke has insurance on the jewellery but her great-niece described it as “irreplaceable”.

Some of it was given to her by her husband Vic, who died in 1994, and others by her nephew Kim Walter Hughes, who passed away in 2016.

One of the items was a ruby ring bought just after the war. It was a large, pear-cut piece surrounded by seven large diamonds, each around three or four carats.

Ms Denham-Reid added there is a touching story behind it: “Just after the war ended, while Molly and Vic were still building their business, she was walking past a shop in Gloucester.

“She saw a beautiful ring. They didn’t have anything back then, and the price was £80, a fortune in those days. The ring must be worth about £20,000 now.

“But Vic said, ‘If you want it you must have it’.

"They literally didn’t have a roof over their heads at the time - they had a tarpaulin.

“But he bought her that ruby and she wore it every day for the next 60 years. For it to be taken is devastating.”

Thief breaks into 96-year-old veteran Molly Luke's house (Picture SWNS)
Mrs Luke has insurance on the jewellery but her great-niece described it as "irreplaceable" (Picture: SWNS).

The family believes that the burglar had been watching Mrs Luke for some time before committing the offence.

Ms Denham-Reid said: “He didn’t ransack the house, he knew where to look.

"He didn’t just grab stuff – he took specific pieces of valuable jewellery and left costume jewellery."

"Many of Molly’s family served in the military and did crucial work for the country during wartime, which means Remembrance Day is usually a special time for her.

Mrs Luke worked at the Dowty factory in Gloucester which made propellors for Second World War-era aircraft including the Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, and many other

A Gloucestershire police spokesman said: "I can confirm that police were called at 8.20pm on 8 November by a neighbour of an elderly woman living in Pelham Crescent, Churchdown.

"The woman was at home when an unknown male entered her property via a downstairs back door while she was upstairs. The man has stolen her jewellery box containing jewellery of great sentimental value.

"The lady was not injured in the incident but is very shocked and upset.

"She has been cared for by the neighbour and relatives."

Anyone with relevant information should call 101, quoting incident number 422 of 8 November.