A PENSIONER has told how thieves ransacked his home before ripping a safe off the wall to steal hundreds of pounds.

The victim, aged in his eighties, was out at the time of the break-in. He returned to his home in Castledon Road, Wickford, to find the door wide open.

Burglars rifled through his drawers before taking the entire contents of the safe, including treasured dog training certificates and his passport.

The man, who asked not to be named, told the Echo the break-in must have happened in the space of about half-an-hour when he popped to Wickford High Street on Wednesday.

He said: “When I got back just after 2pm the door was wide open and the dog was standing there.

“I thought that my daughter-in-law was here but when I went in there was no-one here. I went upstairs to find it had been ransacked.

“They had got in by damaging the back door and forcing it.”

The thieves emptied bedroom drawers in a desperate search for cash, and even took about £20 in loose change from the kitchen.

The man said they must have had an “eureka moment” when they found the safe fixed to a wall.

He described the safe as grey and measuring 18ins by 18 ins. He said it would have taken two men to bring downstairs and they must have had a vehicle waiting to take it away.

The victim said the safe contained “a few hundred pounds” which would have been spent on groceries and household costs for the month.

It also contained certificates from his days as a dog trainer and other personal items which had sentimental value.

He added: “They stood in my own bedroom. In my mind someone was doing one room and other people were in another room. It certainly wasn’t single-handed.

“It took two men to bring the safe upstairs so it took two men to take it down.”

The man said the wall was badly damaged by the removal of the safe. He praised police for arriving at the scene quickly.

PC Hazel Rippingale said: “The suspect has taken a substantial sum of money in this burglary and has targeted an elderly man, which has caused the victim a great deal of distress.

“If anyone saw someone acting suspiciously in the area between 1.30pm and 2pm or anyone with information please contact me at Basildon CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”