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Thirty-five years after it was stolen in a burglary, a porcelain ornament has been returned to the family which owned it, thanks to the power of social media.
When a mystery parcel arrived at the police counter in Kettering, officers were astonished to find it contained a delicate Dresden ornament of three girls.
The parcel also included a note saying it had been stolen from a property in Finedon in 1986, from a family with the surname Collcutt.
After initial enquiries to trace the rightful owners stalled due to the passage of time since the theft, investigating officer PC Tamlin Rees decided to turn to the power of the internet.
Northamptonshire Police issued a media appeal to find the ornament’s owners, posting on our social media channels where the vicar of Finedon, the Reverend Richard Coles, was soon tagged in a tweet.
He revealed he knew the family and promised to do what he could to trace them – meanwhile word also made its way to the daughter of the original owners, Catherine Merry, leading her to contact the Force.
Although 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 the Rev Richard Coles was part of piecing the mystery together - they must be laughing up there! 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 Policing 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.
“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.”
He added his thanks to everyone who had shared the online appeal about the ornament.
This note was included inside the parcel containing the ornament.
The Dresden ornament is still in good condition, with only minor damage to show for its adventures.