Police are on the hunt for a gang of thieves who tricked a 100-year-old Polish RAF hero into letting them into his home before stealing his Second World War medals, jewellery, and thousands of pounds in cash.
100-year-old Jan Stangryciuk, who arrived in Britain in 1940 to volunteer as a gunner in the RAF has been the victim of a heartless pack of thieves who targeted his home in Ealing, west London.
The three men turned up at his home in the middle of the day claiming to be from a water company.
After deceiving their way inside, one of the thieves kept Mr Strangryciuk and his wife distracted while the other two searched the property for valuables.
It wasn't until the three men had left that the couple noticed a number of Mr Stangryciuk's medals, some sentimental jewellery, and thousands of pounds in cash were missing.
The elderly couple had been saving the cash to pay for a trip to Poland to visit family whom they had not been able to see during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Stangryciuk, who was so proud to receive his telegram from the Queen after turning 100 in April was left extremely shaken and upset by the incident.
The RAF hero was born in Poland just four years after the end of WWI, before emigrating with his family to Argentina as a child.
After the Second World War broke out, Mr Stangryciuk travelled to Britain in order to enlist in the RAF to fight the Nazis. In 1942, he was badly injured when the Wellington Bomber he was in crashed in southern England.
He risked his life attempting to free the pilot from the burning fuselage but was the only survivor, suffering horrendous burns to his face.
Talking about the incident, Mrs Stangryciuk said: "Jan didn't realise what was going on. We were both completely confused. The whole thing lasted maybe 10 minutes. "It wasn't until a couple of hours later that we realised what had actually happened. I was so nervous that I didn't know what to do."
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard confirmed that they had been called to a property in Elizabeth Gardens, Ealing, just after 1pm on June 30 to reports of a burglary. They said: "Officers attended and spoke to the victims, who are an elderly couple. "Enquiries suggest a man knocked on the door claiming to be from the water company before entering the property. He was followed by another two men. "It was only when the group had left that the occupants discovered cash, jewellery, and war medals had been stolen."
Police are appealing for witnesses and have also urged residents in the local area to be wary of anyone coming to the door without an appointment.