Halifax couple's joy as family videos taken in van robbery are found

Priceless home movies of a Halifax couple which were taken during a van hijacking have been recovered.

By Charles Graham
Friday, 4th February 2022, 11:40 am

Much to the delight of owners Pamela and John Gillespie, the robber who stole the vehicle at knifepoint last month saw no value in the box of 29 old VHS tapes sitting on the passenger seat and left them after abandoning in the vehicle.

Police have now kindly helped to complete the package’s interrupted journey by hand-delivering it to the shop in Ashton where they had been due to have been delivered more than two weeks ago for copying onto a USB stick.

The couple live in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and are planning to emigrate to Australia in the spring.

Sgt Nick Forshaw, Jon Barr, owner of Showtime Film Conversions, and the all-important videos

This had prompted them to get all their heirloom recordings, some dating back to the 1980s and including wedding footage and film of their children growing up, transferred onto a memory stick and spotted that Wigan company Showtime film conversions had a special offer on.

So admin assistant Pamela, 55, had all the videos dispatched from her work to be delivered by DPD to Showtime on the morning of Wednesday, January 19.

But when the driver arrived, he discovered that the premises didn’t open on a Wednesday so the tapes were put back in the van.

Instead of putting them in the secure back of the van he left them on the passenger seat with the intention of having another go at delivering later.

A happy Pamela and John Gillespie

But at 11am, he was making another delivery in Princess Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield when he was threatened with a blade and the van was driven away. CCTV footage from one of the houses showed the van heading off at speed and then, moments later, the driver in his high-vis jacket vainly giving chase on foot.

For days it was not clear to the Gillespies what had happened to the van and its contents, after they received conflicting accounts from the police and DPD.

But after wigantoday raised the matter with neighbourhood sergeant Nick Forshaw, he ascertained that the van had in fact been found parked up and locked on Townsfield, Ashton, at 5pm on the same day as the robbery.

A special device was required from DPD to open the back of the van and the thief had clearly drawn a blank and made off without taking anything.

The most vulnerable items in the vehicle were the videos, but after tearing open the packaging and seeing what was inside, he left them there.

Sgt Forshaw said: “We are delighted that the videos have been recovered.

“Because they were handled by the offender they have been forensically examined - as has the van - and so now they can continue on their way. They were due to be delivered to Showtime Film Conversions in Ashton and as the Gillespies live 50 miles away it made sense to take them along to the shop and save them the round trip.

“It’s nice there’s been a happy ending.”

Pamela said: “We are so delighted at this outcome. I really wasn’t holding out much hope and didn’t think we’d get them back.

“If the Post hadn’t raised this issue about the videos, it could have gone on for weeks, or the box might have got lost some other way. It was very nice of Sgt Forshaw to take the videos to the shops.”

The robber is still on the run. Anyone who knows who is responsible or witnessed the robbery at 11am on January 19, spotted the vehicle thereafter or saw its being abandoned on Townsfield should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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