A burglary victim today makes a heartfelt and direct plea to the intruder who ransacked her home and stole a computer hard drive on which she had stored hundreds of family photographs.
Ruth Rolinson's home in Groby was raided while she and her husband, John, were enjoying an Easter break.
A burglar emptied 61-year-old Mrs Rolinson's jewellery box and stole her husband's laptop.
However, the greatest loss was a battered old computer hard drive, on which she had stored hundreds of treasured images.
As the pain of her loss of a decade of family history sank in, Mrs Rolinson sat down and wrote an open letter to the intruder.
The Leicester Mercury publishes it in full today (see panel below).
"These photographs represent 10 years of my life and are absolutely irreplaceable," she said.
"I am absolutely heartbroken they have gone and I just wanted to express that.
"You never know, the letter might just prick the burglar's conscience and they will do something to get the hard drive back to me.
"Also, someone in the village might have seen it discarded somewhere and hadn't thought anything of it. There were hundreds of photographs stored in it. There were holidays with my family, with my mum and with friends.
"There are pictures of my two brothers and their families as well as special occasions such as friends retiring from work as well as our two daughters and their partners.
"We have a fabulous family and a wonderful circle of friends and they are all in there somewhere."
The couple's home, in the centre of the village, was burgled while they were away for a few days. They came home early when they contacted about the break-in.
"It was awful when we saw what they had done," Mrs Rolinson said. "They hadn't made such a mess downstairs, but they went through all the rooms upstairs.
"They pulled open all the drawers, cupboards and wardrobes and threw the clothes everywhere.
"They were looking for small valuable items, I suppose.
"They emptied my jewellery box and took my husband's laptop. I imagine they took everything away in a bag.
" I am usually a very strong person and my husband is too, but this has absolutely floored us.
"We are insured, so I will be able to buy more jewellery – but I won't enjoy spending the insurance money because I will be replacing pieces of jewellery which are, in many cases, simply irreplaceable.
"Now I want to see if anyone can help us find the hard drive. I just hope that the letter will have some effect. I never thought someone would want to steal the hard drive – it's just a small box held together with electrician's tape and is of no monetary value to anyone."
Police are investigating the break-in, which they believe happened between 2.30pm on Sunday, March 31 and the following Tuesday.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said the intruder broke in by forcing open a back door.
The Leicester Mercury reported last week that total recorded crime in Leicestershire fell by 13 per cent from 68,151 offences in the 12 months between April 2011, and March 2012, to 58,805 in the past year.
The number of homes burgled fell from 4,231 in 2011/12 to 3,935 in the past year.
Information about the break-in at the Rolinsons' home can be passed to police on 101 or Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.