An 80-year-old RAF veteran has been left "devastated" after thieves robbed him of his wedding album and late wife's ring.
Great-grandfather Colin Bennett opened his door in Queslett Road East, Streetly, Sutton Coldfield, to a man who claimed he had been sent by the water board.
The former corporal had almost £3,500 stolen in the raid on Wednesday but the thieves also made off with a cherished photo album which contained one-off pictures and memories of the day he married his wife, Irene, who died last June aged 85, as well as her gold wedding ring.
Mr Bennett, who got married in the late 1950s, told the Press Association:
"I'm devastated. I lost my wife last year, now I've lost everything else."
The pensioner, who looked after his wife for eight years as she suffered from dementia, said he cannot understand why the thieves took his wedding photographs and is begging them to return the photos and the ring - describing them as the "most treasured" things he had. He said:
"I would plead with them to return the wedding photographs and the wedding ring. I could look at them pictures and I could see my wife when she was young when we first got married.
"[The wedding ring] dropped off her hand in hospital because she'd lost weight. And I brought that wedding ring home, and I tell you now I cried. Because I thought... 'I put that on her finger 50-odd years ago, and now I've got it back in my hand'. And I put it in this place. I thought it was safe and it wasn't."
Mr Bennett, who said "hindsight's a wonderful thing", opened the door on Wednesday to a man described to police as white, in his late 20s, 5ft 8in and skinny, who was wearing a dark baseball cap, a sleeveless dark jacket and grey industrial glasses.
He let him into his home in good faith at around 11am as he said he had been sent by the water board to carry out checks at the property.
He took him to the kitchen where he carried out "routine checks" for around 15 minutes.
It is believed that during this time a second offender gained access to the house and raided an upstairs bedroom.
Mr Bennett realised what had happened and called police a short time after the bogus water board official left.
West Midlands Police have now launched an appeal to trace the items which were stolen, leaving the pensioner heartbroken. DC Eddie Morgan, from the investigation team, said:
"The most devastating loss is the photos and the memories within the photo album which have been taken. These had not been copied and can never be replaced. We are determined to get these items back to the owner. I'd urge anyone who has been offered such items for sale to come forward and tell us."
"We are also appealing for anyone who saw someone in the area yesterday matching the description to contact us."
Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Ed Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo courtesy of Ray Forster.