A pensioner has had tools worth thousands of pounds stolen from his van in Chalfont St Peter just days after his birthday.

Gerry, 83, who worked in the village for 40 years, has likened the theft of the tools - worth £2,000 - to losing a beloved family pet.

The retired engineer, who was born in Cornwall and retired to the south west nearly 20 years ago, fears he has lost them – some of which he had for over 60 years – forever.

He was visiting a friend, in Layters Green Lane, on Monday June 5 to celebrate his birthday, and parked in a visitors’ car park next to a wall to prevent anyone from breaking in through the rear doors.

He stayed overnight at his friend’s flat and in the morning, on his way to see another friend in Newmarket, Suffolk, noticed the position of his wing mirror had changed while driving on the M25.

Thinking nothing of it he carried on, but when he parked up to go for a coffee he saw the lock on one of the rear sliding doors had been damaged.

When he opened the van he discovered to his horror that “99%” of his tools had gone.

He said: “I’m never going to replace them. It was well over 60 years’ worth of tools in there. To buy them now you would want around £2,000. I collected them over the years.”

Gerry carried out jobs for his family and friends

Thieves stole 20 screwdrivers, a full set of sockets with a case, a separate aluminium box full of spanners and an electric drill.

While Jerry is now retired, he had collected the tools through his job and used them to do odd jobs for friends and family.

He said: “They were antique. To me it’s like having an old dog and losing the dog. I can’t replace the old ones.”

Despite contacting Thames Valley Police (TVP) he fears he will not see the tools again because he no longer lives in Buckinghamshire.

He added: “I was gutted. I could have marmalised [the thieves]. If I could see them do it someone would have been in trouble.

“I’m not happy about it. It’s like someone fiddling me out of money. You think, how could that happen? Why did it happen? But life goes on – you have to pick yourself up now.”

TVP has been contacted for comment.