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Heirloom Stolen, Blind Man Attacked In Chester, NH Burglaries

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Michael Rosenfield Michael Rosenfield
Michael Rosenfield is the New Hampshire Bureau Chief for CBS Boston’s...
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CHESTER, NH (CBS) – Two burglaries have rattled a small town in New Hampshire.

In one case, a precious family heirloom was stolen. In the second, a blind man was knocked over and beaten.

Both happened in the same Chester neighborhood.

“I have to say it was scary,” said 22-year-old Joe Gesel, who is legally blind. He was working on a Braille project for Epping Elementary School when he heard strange noises in the living room. He went downstairs and was confronted by a man who assaulted him.

He now has a black eye and a large wound on his back.

Thousands of dollars in jewelry was taken from the home.

Nearby, there was another burglary. Nobody was home but the homeowners say someone broke in through a window and made off with a lot of jewelry, including a precious family heirloom—a gold chain with a crucifix.

“I felt pretty honored to be the one in the family to get it,” said Richard Stapleford. “I feel I was supposed to protect it and that didn’t happen.”

The crucifix was handed down from his grandfather who had the crucifix made from gold mined in South America. It has been appraised at around $7000 according to Stapleford.

He is now posting flyers around town and is offering a $1000 reward for its return.

“It’s got a lot of sentimental value to me and it was something that I was hoping to pass down as well,” said Stapleford.

Chester Police say both crimes happened around the same time, and it is possible that the same people are responsible.

“We want people to be vigilant,” said Chester Police Lt. Aaron Berube. “We want people to be looking out for their neighbor. We want to be notified if there’s anything unusual.”

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