By Charles Creasey
Yobs who burgled a house after hearing on social media that the owner was on holiday returned to ‘FIREBOMB’ it with a baby inside – because they were frustrated at only getting away with a change jar.
Amy Wolfenden, 24, had just put her four-year-old son to sleep in Cleckheaton, West Yorks, last week, when a man allegedly burst through the back door and shouted ‘shut the f**k up and don’t move’.
The young mum was house sitting and thinks the youths were shocked to find somebody home because the owner had ‘posted all over Facebook she was going on holiday’.
Next-door neighbour Callum Stoddart, 22, rushed over to help Amy fix the broken back door when the hooligans returned to the front of the property and set the house ablaze.
Terrifying footage show the masked men set alight to the house, fleeing as large flames begin to lick up the front of the house – leaving Callum to battle the fire before police and fire services arrive.
Amy recalls how she was ‘shaking’ with fear while her son Leo was ‘screaming upstairs’ as plumes of smoke began to consume the property.
Callum’s partner Savannah Thompson speculated that the thugs had been targeting puppies that were in the house but were dismayed to have fled the raid with only £65 in a jar of change.
Amy said: “I was absolutely shaking. I mean, who even does that?
“When they broke in I had my little boy with me – he was upstairs. Obviously, I didn’t know the half of it and only found out about the fire later.
“I put Leo to bed at about 8 o’clock. People later told me that they heard a bang after but I didn’t hear it inside.
“Then there was a man stood there in the doorway. He just said ‘shut the f**k up and don’t move.’
“I could hear Leo screaming upstairs and the man just grabbed the change jar. I just turned around and ran upstairs to find Leo after he left.
“I was just absolutely shaking. But you’re more shocked in that situation, aren’t you? Now I can’t sleep properly and I’m going to have to go to the doctors to get sleeping tablets.
“I don’t know what they were after. It might have been the dogs, it could have been the car. They might have been after the keys.
“After they’d gone I remember I was upstairs and the house just started filling with smoke – I think I might have heard someone say ‘fire’ but I wasn’t really paying attention.
“The police told me the front door would be boarded up and ten minutes later the fire service came.”
Callum and his partner Savannah, 21, say they were lucky to put the fire out so quickly, not least since their nine-month-old son Finley was asleep in their house next door.
Savannah said: “They’re just low lives, whoever did this. There was just smoke everywhere. I was just so p****d off, but also really angry and scared at the same time.
“In setting fire to the house, I think they just thought ‘f**k off’ really. They didn’t expect anybody to be in the house so it was probably them showing their anger at being caught out.
“Our next door neighbour’s friend Amy was watching the house while she way away.
“Our neighbour had posted on social media that she was going on holiday – so I think those lads expected the house to be empty.
“I think they were after her puppies. They were in a cage at the back, and they’re worth several hundred pounds per puppy.
So, to say they made off with just a £65 jar of cash, I understand why they’d be annoyed.
“Perhaps the attempt to set fire to the house was an effort to draw police and the people in the house to the front so they could steal the puppies at the back – I really don’t know.”
Savannah was next door with her nine-month-old son who was asleep upstairs.
The houses are connected as a semi-detached block. Her partner Callum went around the front of the house with his hammer in an attempt to put out the blaze as police arrived on the scene.
Savannah said: “My nine-month-old son was asleep upstairs and I was just scared for him. I didn’t want the smoke going upstairs where he was sleeping.
“I just really didn’t know what was going on because there was just smoke bellowing through the house. Callum was outside trying to put the fire out before the police and fire brigade came.
“If the fire brigade hadn’t come when they did, both our houses could have gone up and everything would have been set on fire.
“I just rushed to find Callum outside to find out what was going on. Those lads must have been hiding in the bushes I think.”
Callum speculates the youths may have been trying to cause a distraction, and quickly rushed to the front of the house to put out the flames.
Callum said: “I reckon it was a petrol bomb. There was just smoke everywhere and we’re all lucky to be alive.
“I remember looking and just seeing the flames shooting through the door. The police officers said to me they’d never seen anything like it.
“After fixing my neighbour’s back door, I went around the front, hammer in hand, to try and put out the fire.
“I think by the look of it they were aiming the fire at the doors but they caught the bushes. I just can’t help but think the whole thing could have been a lot worse.
“If that would have occurred at two o’clock in the morning it would have been a completely different story. If there had been no police there already, responding to the robbery, I’d dread to think.
“Those lads broke into her house and threatened her, and made off with a change pot.
“We reckon they came for the dogs, but they were in cages. Regarding the fire, I’m just glad it wasn’t any worse.”
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We attended an incident on November 22. We have the start time for the incident at 21:25.
“Cleckheaton and Odsal crews attended.”
A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “Police are investigating reports of a burglary in Cleckheaton, at about 8:10pm last night.
“During the incident, a jar containing cash was taken from the property after the suspect confronted the occupant.
“While officers were at the scene, a shrub at the front of the property was set alight. Firefighters managed to contain the fire which did not spread.
“No one was injured during the incident.”