Saanich senior has 'nearly no furniture' after series of break-ins while she was in hospital

Hospitalized senior targeted

Neighbours are stepping in to help after thieves stole valuable antiques and ransacked Anne Tolmie’s home in a series of break-ins this past week while she was in hospital with pneumonia.

First a cabinet full of antique china was taken and then the mahogany cabinet itself disappeared, along with vintage hats and fur coats, said Dave Chambers, who runs neighbouring Madrona Farm.

The 78-year-old Tolmie, who is from the area’s pioneering Tolmie farming family, said Monday that there is “nearly no furniture left” after what she figures were six separate break-and-enters.

Glassware and other items are also missing, she said. “Everything that they could possibly trade for money, I guess.”

It’s hard to believe what has happened, said Tolmie, who has been battling pneumonia since the end of February. “I certainly was surprised, although I suppose the place looked deserted,” she said.

The house is at the end of a hidden driveway, and Chambers said whoever has been breaking in might have noticed signs that it was often empty, like the lack of recyclables in the blue bins.

Tolmie has lately been allowed out of the hospital during the day, but said she can’t stay at her home right now because it’s in such rough shape.

After she discovered the house had been targeted by thieves, she visited Chambers this past weekend to tell him what had been going on.

By the time they got back to the home to check things out, it had been broken into again, Chambers said.

“This time they’d broken into the basement and they’d cut her copper water pipes out,” he said. “They’d smashed a hole between the foundation and the house and pulled the pipes out of there.”

Chambers said he couldn’t believe the state of the rest of the interior.

“It was absolutely ransacked. Every box, every chest, every drawer was on the floor.”

The basement windows have had to be boarded up, said Chambers, adding Saanich police have been notified and have been to the home.

On Monday, a group of people went to the property to help clean up and found the front door and a sliding glass door were open, Chambers said.

Tolmie confirmed it had definitely been locked.

“They’d stolen more stuff,” Chambers said. “Basically somebody’s coming in here and ‘mining’ her house.”

Friends and neighbours will do what they can to get Tolmie back to her home, he said.

“Our goal is to get her house cleaned out and then get her something that she can live in here, like a mobile home, and put a care plan in place so she’s got more protection.”

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