A BURGLAR has admitted trying to steal more than £20,000 of gold jewellery from a family home in Northfleet.

Patrick McCarthy, 22, was seen by a next door neighbour breaking into the house in Waterdales, at around 2.40pm on Friday, January 31.

The witness called the police, who arrived just as McCarthy was trying to leave, and with the help of the police helicopter he was arrested 200 yards from the victim's home.

McCarthy, of Fairbridge Way, Burgess Hill, had tried to get rid of some of the jewellery as he was being chased, which police later recovered.

When officers went back to the home they discovered around £20,000 worth of gold jewellery in a pillowcase in the living room, left behind when McCarthy was disturbed by the police.

The victims, who are a married couple with two children, were all out at the time of the burglary.

The 40-year-old dad said: "The first we knew of the burglary was when we got home and we saw the police cars all outside our house.

"I ran into the house to see what had happened. I was totally devastated because they had been through all of our clothes and drawers and into our home.

"The feeling of intrusion was just horrible."

The victim said the burglars broke in through their backdoor and the witness called the police multiple times to alert them to the break in.

He added: "We are eternally grateful to the police and the witness. If they had got away we would have lost more than £20,000 of family jewellery.

"They tried to take my wife's wedding ring, necklaces, chains and bracelets which were all presents we have had from family over the years.

"The police did an amazing job as well, thank you is just enough sometimes."

Kent Police detectives are urging residents in Dartford and Gravesend with high-value jewellery to take extra precautions when it comes to home security.

This follows a number of reports of burglaries targeting addresses where the occupants have large quantities of 22 or 24ct gold.

Detective Chief Inspector Ann Lisseman said: ‘We never underestimate just how big of an impact burglary can have on the victims.

"To know someone has been inside your home, rifling through your possessions and touching your belongings, can be completely devastating, destroying your sense of safety and privacy.

"Victims feel violated and uneasy in their own homes, and the matter is made worse when the items stolen are not only highly valuable but also highly sentimental.

"In some cases, with these burglaries targeting gold, the value of these items can exceed tens of thousands of pounds and the valuables have high cultural significance, too.

"The more the community works with the police, the quicker we collate our reports to note down patterns and target the criminals in the most effective way.

"We can’t act on information we don’t have, so no matter how insignificant you think what you know is, tell us - it can provide an essential lead."

McCarthy, who was remanded in custody, awaits sentencing after he was charged with burglary and pleaded guilty to the offence at Medway Magistrates' Court on Saturday, February 1.

Anyone who has any information regarding a theft or burglary in their area should call 101.