Making off with the goods – removal company leaves family with nothing after botched house move
A family has had all of their worldly possessions – after a dodgy removal company vanished with £10,000 of their belongings.
Becky Szenk, 22, and fiancé Mark Higgins, 28, from Walsall, West Mids, had booked a removal firm that they found on Facebook to move possessions from their flat in Bilston, near Wolverhampton, eight miles away to a flat above the pub that they manage in Walsall Wood.
But after two removal men from the firm, named Lee Green, arrived on Friday 25 September in a rental van to pack up the family’s property the Facebook page was taken down and the men have not been heard of since.
Among the items taken from the flat were a fridge freezer, the washing machine, furniture and clothing – along with all of the family’s photographs and Becky’s engagement ring.
After they finished loading the van the men, who were described as courteous and polite and spoke with Black Country accents, vanished and took with them around £10,000 of stolen possessions according to the devastated family.
But what appeared to be professionalism to get a job done quickly in fact turned out to be haste to get away.
Now the only possession left is the family’s prized television, which they took with them in their car to prevent it being damaged in the house move.
Becky said: “The removal men were racing in and out of the flat. We just thought they were being very professional. But once they drove away we didn’t see them again.
“The only thing they didn’t go was the television, and that’s only because we moved that ourselves in the car as we were worried about it getting damaged,” Becky added.
“Everything we own was packed into that van. It all happened so quickly, around 45 minutes from start to finish.
“They were supposed to meet my partner at the pub but never turned up. We have been left with virtually nothing.”
Mum Becky and Mark, who have a seven-month-old baby Ariyah together, invested all of their money into pub, the Horse and Jockey, and were hoping to be able to turn the business into a boomer.
But when Mark, the pub’s manager, called Becky an hour after the removal men left to say there was no sign of their possessions, the couple realised that something was wrong.
Becky said: “The men had told me in advance to pack all of our belongings into boxes and label them up clearly – I didn’t realise at the time, but they took the most valuable items first.
“When I commented on how fast they were completing their work, one of them told me that ‘we have a lot of jobs on today’.”
“I have never cried more in my life than I did on Friday afternoon – I am so distraught that they have taken my engagement ring and my baby’s toys.”
While the family had believed that they were making a fresh start to take over the management of the pub, they have had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get back on their feet.
Becky said: “We were in our new home on Friday night, but it wasn’t a home, it was four walls. We didn’t even have a blanket to sleep under.
“Some people have come forward recently to provide us with essentials, but we still don’t have everything.
“I have to put my daughter first and it important that she is looked after before Mark and I have what we need to live.
“It’s left us absolutely heartbroken. We can get new furniture but the personal stuff cannot be replaced.
“For us it’s been a big lesson to learn. I just hope others can be more careful about trusting people they book over social media as I would hate for this to happen to anyone else.”
West Midlands Police confirmed they are investigating and treating the crime as theft.
Spokeswoman Gina Lycett, said: “Police are investigating a theft after a family from Bilston hired a ‘man with a van’ to help them move house, advertised on a social networking site.
“A van was loaded with the family’s belongings from Mount Pleasant in Bilston on 25 September.
“The man never arrived at their new home in Walsall.
“Detectives continue to investigate the theft and are appealing to anyone with information to call West Midlands Police on 101.”