Flashback: A catburglar, a have-a-go hero and Rod Stewart’s new girlfriend

The Dagenham Post. Picture: Archant

The Dagenham Post. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Stories that made the news 60, 40 and 20 years ago


Police were warning people to lock all their doors and windows after failing to snare a burglar in one of the area's biggest campaigns.

Plainclothes officers and a detective were on the hunt for the culprit whose early morning house-raiding spree began with four houses in Westrow Drive, Barking.

Just one week after targeting his first home he had notched up 22 burglaries using his "outstanding" method of breaking in using a bradawl tool to bore through the lead of a fanlight window before springing the latch.

Fingerprint experts and sniffer dogs were sent in but the "soft shoed" raider evaded all efforts at capture, even managing to ransack a house without disturbing a hound in another room.

His loot was mostly cash, but jewellery and electric shavers were also snatched.

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"His raids are planned with the utmost care, which suggests the work of a professional burglar rather than a small time amateur," the Post reported.

The campaign to catch him is one of the biggest on local records, the paper added.


A have-a-go hero stabbed trying to stop a robber may have been saved by his big belly.

Pete Mitchell was drinking in the Roundhouse in Dagenham with friend Ray Heary when a masked man armed with a knife and cosh burst into the Ashe and Nephew off licence nearby.

Two women staff escaped, running into the pub screaming, "He's going to kill her."

Pete and Ray rushed round to the store where they confronted the robber as he was scooping up bags of cash from the safe.

As the friends grappled with him, 20-stone Pete was stabbed in the stomach while Ray, who managed to hit the thug over the head with a bottle, had his hand slashed by the robber's accomplice.

Pete, 38, of Markyate Road, was rushed to Oldchurch Hospital then transferred to Billericay for specialist surgery.

His wife Edna told the Post: "If it wasn't for his fat belly he would have been a goner. It was typical of Peter to go and help. He's not one to stand back and not get involved, especially when there is a woman involved."


A Barking College pupil was getting distracted from her studies after catching the eye of singer Rod Stewart.

Penny Lancaster, who studied photography at the college, started dating the rock star after bumping into him at the Dorchester Hotel.

Rod, 55, and renowned for dating "blonde beauties", invited her to take snaps of him at a concert in Earls Court.

As a result of their meeting, the 28-year-old model was joining him on trips to Barbados and at glittering music ceremonies, the Post reported.

Her tutor, Ed Kinge, head of photography at Barking College, said: "Penny is in her second year at the college and doing very well indeed.

"She is a very talented and clever young lady and because of her excellent contacts in the model industry she will do very well in the photography business.

"I knew that Penny was in a relationship with Rod and I think it is quite common knowledge around the college but at the end of the day it is her private life and that is how it should remain."