Melissa Todd: A message to masked men who traumatised my tenants

Caught on CCTV

I didn’t plan to be a landlord. I bought my first house and was promptly offered a job abroad, so reluctantly, I chose to rent it out: when I came back, I found the house had made five times as much as I had, while the tenants were so happy and settled it seemed rude to send them packing. So I bought another thing to live in. That kept happening. Seven times, in fact. If only I had any skills I might have found a more dignified way to earn a living, but sadly I’m largely decorative.

Three of these places are in Ramsgate, and one of them got broken into between Christmas and New Year. I was at my brother-in-law’s, out in the country; chief advantage of which, aside from the magnificent cooking and company, is the complete lack of a phone signal. As I approached civilisation – or Sittingbourne, at least – my phone kept pinging. Mr Todd sneaked a peek.

“Gosh, 38 missed calls!”

“Perhaps I’ve won the lottery? Or the Orwell prize for journalism?”

But it was tenants, and my mum, and the police, asking me where the hell I was, because there’d been an awful brutal break in. Two men dressed in clown masks had taken a baseball bat to two front doors and smashed them to pieces, to relieve my friend and tenant of cash, her Christmas gin stash and bizarrely, her evening primrose oil. Police are looking for two thugs who keep crying at Bambi and hankering after those adorable shoes.

This happening on a Saturday night, I felt utterly helpless and useless. Two front doors were hanging off their hinges, six people for whom I feel responsible were effectively homeless, and there was nothing – nothing – I could do to help. I can’t mend doors or scare off bad guys. Thank goodness the police had made temporary repairs to both doors and supplied fearsome padlocks to keep said bad guys at bay.

I was incredibly grateful. But unsurprisingly, everyone decided to stay elsewhere until proper new doors could be fitted. This took longer than it should have, because Christmas, and weekend, and everyone with any skills and time was already super busy. I felt rotten keeping them waiting so long. But one week later it was fixed and everyone is safe again, although the two tiny children in the top flat are still traumatised and wretched, unsurprisingly.

I feel a hypocrite admitting this has shaken me badly, given it wasn’t my home that got smashed to bits and ransacked. But I do feel responsible for my tenants’ well-being, and properly awful that this has happened to them. I want to thank the police who take care of them so kindly and efficiently. They were absolutely brilliant.

And to the lumpen, cretinous thugs who decided to destroy someone’s festive season, I wish every pestilence upon you, thrush and lockjaw and scabies; may the money you stole bring you nothing but trouble: the drink, the very worst of maudlin drunkenness and hangovers. May the misery and fear you inflicted on a young family haunt you at your dying hour.

Also, your thighs look really weedy in those pictures. Try adding a leg day to your gym routine, scrawny. Clearly white isn’t your colour. And clown masks are so 2017. Get with the times. Must you be an embarrassment as well as a nuisance?

Police appeal

Police have appealed for anyone with information about the robbery at the Artillery Road property at 9.37pm on Saturday December 29, to come forward.

One man is described as a white man, wearing a white hooded jacket with black zip detailing, black bottoms and a ski mask and was believed to be carrying a knife.

The second man is described as wearing a jacket with either a light grey or green top half and a darker colour lower half, black combat trousers, black trainers and wearing a costume mask.

Officers are appealing for anyone with information to call Kent Police on 01843 222289 quoting 46/33677/18.
Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111.


  1. I sympathies with you totally.

    My daughter and her family were away over the Christmas period.

    My daughter messaged on Christmas day to say that her next door neighbour had passed away unexpectedly and it was such a shock. Boxing day I received a call from my daughter to say that her alarm was going off and someone with a dog had been seen in her back garden. Could I go and check.

    I arrived at my daughters 15 minutes after the call. I checked the property all was O.K. so I reset the alarm assuming that the intruder had set off the alarm by the movement in the garden. The following day I received a further call from my daughter to say that the alarm was ringing again. So I went to her home and switched off her alarm leaving a car in the drive to make it look as if someone was resident. I checked the property daily as no alarm was operational.

    On my daughter and her families return a (asshole) neighbour knocked on my daughters door and asked sarcastically did she have a nice holiday for which she politely said yes thank you. The (asshole) neighbour. Said good because your alarm spoilt my Christmas. My daughter advised that the normal person who keeps an eye on their home had passed away unexpectedly and that another neighbour had made enquiries from the deceased mans wife for my daughters number and contacted me -her father immediately. My father coming as soon as he was told of the problem which was within 15 minutes each time.

    The (asshole) neighbour continued to rant and rave driving my daughter to tears. Subsequently my son-in-law appeared and tried to calm the (asshole) man inviting him into the property to save further embarrassment for the (asshole) in front of the neighbours. Thankfully my daughters mother turned up and saw the commotion telling the (asshole) man if he had a problem to put it in writing whereupon a civilasied response would be made. Yes the (asshole) man left with a flee in his ear.

    If the (asshole) man who lives on a respectable estate in Cliffsend reads this article and your on line paper he will know who he is and I hope he will be suitably ashamed of himself and cut down on his alcohol intake. If the only way he knows how to get his point over is to drink and shout at people driving women to tears I feel sorry for his wife and family.
    If he was so concerned why didn’t he contact the police or make enquiries from the neighbours.

  2. I feel sorry for the poor lady, and if the man behaves like that to women out in the open, god only knows how he treats women behind closed doors!

  3. All I have read is the headline which includes the word Cretin. Cretinism is a congenital disease due to absence or deficiency of normal thyroid secretion, characterized by physical deformity, dwarfism, and mental retardation, and often by goiter. Iy is as insulting to use this word as it would be to use any other condition as an insult. e.g. dwarfism, Down’s Syndrome, Prada Willi syndrome. Please do not use it again.

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