Missing 100-Year-Old Clock Returned to Owners After Seven Years

A clock with huge sentimental value that was stolen from a couple's home has finally been reunited with its owners after being missing for seven years.

After thieves swiped the nearly 100-year-old timepiece, it turned up at a rummage sale and was then spotted by an eagle-eyed eBay sleuth who tracked down the original owners.

Paul Janes' late grandfather was given the clock for helping police in Maidstone, Kent, in the U.K., with an arrest on the day after Christmas in 1925.

But 90 years later, heartless crooks broke into his home in Netherfield, England and ransacked several rooms in the property.

Janes and his wife Annette came home from a night away on January 15, 2015, to find burglars had forced their way in through the front door and stole the priceless chiming clock, as well as some other items.

Clock
Paul Janes with wife Annette and the clock. Undated photograph. Janes' grandfather was given the clock in 1925 for helping the police. SWNS/Zenger/Sussex Police

After an investigation, police said the case was filed due to no viable lines of inquiry.

Then, a few years later, the clock turned up at a rummage sale in Ford, West Sussex, in southern England, where it was bought by a stall customer.

It then changed hands again, after being listed on eBay, where its journey home began.

The eBay purchaser, who wished to remain anonymous, spotted the listing and began researching the clock after reading its personalized plaque.

He became worried that such a personal possession would not have been sold legally.

So he researched the victim's grandfather and found an article in a local newspaper about the burglary.

The amateur investigator then contacted a local radio station to put out an appeal in case the owner was listening, but after being unsuccessful in tracking him down, contacted Sussex Police.

Detectives from the Hastings' police criminal investigations unit then told Paul and Annette the clock had been found and they were reunited with it this week.

Janes said: "I never expected to see it again. I was absolutely astounded and delighted.

"I am so grateful to the finder, who would only let me cover his purchase fee on the understanding that he could donate it to a firefighters' benevolent fund.

"He was an ex-Metropolitan firefighter who retired some years ago."

Clock
The plaque on the clock presented to Leonard King after assisting a police officer from Maidstone Borough Police Force with the arrest of two violent prisoners on Boxing Day 1925. Undated photograph. It was stolen from Janes' home in 2015. SWNS/Zenger/Sussex Police

Leonard King, Janes' grandfather, was presented with the clock as a thank you gift after helping a police officer from Maidstone Borough Police Force arrest two violent escaped prisoners.

The clock has a rounded top and a large clock face on the front with a diamond shape engraving below and twisted spindles either side, with a brass plaque on the front.

The family initially offered a reward of £100 ($120) for information that could help convict the offender.

Detective Sergeant Chris Milner, of Sussex Police, said: "We were delighted to be able to reunite this item with the owner, and it also shows the vital importance of police actions such as listing items on property databases and publicizing such crimes in media releases in the hope that one day they will be identified and returned."

Produced in association with SWNS.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.