Rev Richard Coles helps stolen ornament find its way back to Northamptonshire family 35 years later

Police appeals alert local vicar to help solve riddle of keepsake delivered to police

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 16th July 2021, 2:01 pm

An ornament stolen from a Northamptonshire family 35 years ago is back where it belongs.

The delicate Dresden porcelain keepsake was inside a mystery parcel handed in to police last month, alongside a note claiming it had been stolen from from a Finedon family with the surname Collcutt in 1986.

Initial enquiries to trace the rightful owners stalled so investigating officer PC Tamlin Rees turned to social media.

Catherine Merry collects the ornament stolen from her parents in 1986

Local vicar, Reverend Richard Coles, was among those quickly tagged in tweets meanwhile word also spread to the daughter of the original owners, Catherine Merry.

Catherine confirmed that sadly her parents had both since sadly passed away, following the relevant checks to make sure all was in order, PC Rees arranged to return the ornament to her and the family.

Catherine said: “The response has been truly overwhelming and also heart-warming - my parents would be astonished!

"I think they would be particularly pleased that Rev Coles was part of piecing the mystery together — they must be laughing up there!

The ornament was delivered to Kettering police with this note

"It just goes to show that social media can really work for the good.

“Someone in the village heard about the appeal first and asked if it could be me, at the same time as Rev Coles had tweeted about going to school with my brother, which my son also saw.

“Seeing the ornament again was extraordinary. It was like going back in time to being a little girl again. Our family owes a massive thank you to Tamlin, he made the whole thing a great experience and we really appreciate it.”

PC Rees, of the Kettering Neighbourhood Team, added: “As an officer I was firstly surprised by the manner in which we received the ornament, and like any officer would be, was keen to try and unravel the mysteries surrounding this case.

Finedon vicar Rev Richard Coles answered police social media appeals for help locating the keepsake's owners

“With a bit of old-fashioned police work I got so far but then hit a dead end, so with the help of our digital communities, it was great to successfully trace the family and return this item to them.

“It was very rewarding to be able to hand over the ornament after it having been missing for so long, and to see how happy Catherine was, especially in recounting her memories around the time when the ornament was in her family home before it was stolen.”