Burglars with a guilty conscience saved the life of a pet goldfish – after they smashed its bowl as they raided a family home.
The crooks forced their way into the property of Monica, 47, and Lance McGill, 49, in Wollaton, Notts., between 11am and 9pm on November 28.
They snatched a HP Compaq laptop from a table during the break-in and knocked a glass bowl containing goldfish Freddie on to the floor in the process.
But rather than fleeing the scene, the thieves had a change of heart and safely placed the pet in the kitchen sink after they filled it with water.
Mum-of-three Monica said they were stunned to find Freddie splashing around in the sink after they returned home to find their two laptops and cash missing.
The family are now appealing for the safe return of the items – which contain sentimental photos of their children growing up – and have offered a #300 reward.
Today (Mon) Monica, who is mum to Quinn, 10, West, eight, and six-year-old Parc, said: “They stole a few other things but I don’t care about that.
“I just want the pictures back.
“I’ve been taking them ever since my son was born, so we have six years’ worth of pictures. There are thousands.
“I’m not even bothered about the laptop. They can burn the pictures onto a disk for all I care – I just want them back.
“The more I think about it [saving Freddie], the more it makes sense.
“They’re just there to take whatever they can to make some money from.
“They weren’t there to hurt a child or kill an animal or anything like that.
“They probably know we have insurance for the rest of the stuff, but not the pet and that’s why they saved him.”
Neighbour Howard Brown added: “I saw the police van parked outside the home and wondered what had gone on.
“I saw Monica, who said they had been burgled and she had lost all of her pictures of the children growing up.
“They really want them back. It’s demoralising for them.
“She also said the burglars had knocked the goldfish bowl over, but saved the goldfish by putting it in the sink. It’s certainly unusual.”
A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: “We are investigating this burglary and enquiries are ongoing.
“The offenders gained entry through a downstairs window and stole two laptops and some cash.”
Full-time mum Monica and Lance, a project manager for a construction firm, did not discover Freddie in the sink until two hours after the burglary.
They placed the eight-year-old goldfish, which was bought from a garden centre for 89p, in a cereal bowl until they could buy a new one for him the following day.
Monica, who is originally from New Jersey, USA, added: “We had been out for dinner with some friends celebrating American Thanksgiving.
“We returned home to find the smashed bowl over the floor and there was no sign of Freddie so I thought he was dead for sure.
“At that point there I could not see anything missing. It sounds strange but our fish has been known to jump out of his bowl so I thought he might have knocked it off.
“But then I went upstairs and found our bedroom ransacked. Two laptops were missing, as well as €3,000, a camera and a wallet.
“We phoned the police straight away and they said not to touch anything until they got there, so we just waited.
“It wasn’t until they had left two hours later that I went to the kitchen sink for a drink and saw Freddie looking up at me.
“He was just there splashing around in the sink without a care in the world. You wouldn’t have known what he had just been through. He looked quite content.
“I couldn’t believe they went out of their way to save him. I thought he was gone for sure.
“It is mixed feelings really. They are still thieves that need catching – but we are really grateful they took the time to save Freddie.
“We bought him for my youngest daughter from a garden centre for her first birthday so she is quite fond of him. She was really happy when we found out he was alive.
“They must have had a change of heart and I’m hoping that as far as crooks go, these are OK ones, if there is such a thing.
“They must have had a guilty conscience so if they think like that I’m hoping they can find it in their hearts to return the laptop.
“The pictures of my children and irreplaceable. I don’t mind about the electrical items but those photos are memories. I just want them back.
“It feels horrible to know somebody has been in your home while you weren’t there but at least Freddie has survived the ordeal.”
Anyone with information about the break-in asked to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 767 of November 28.