Lady Oxford, 73, was left "bruised and shocked" after being struck several times by the robber who pulled the wedding and engagement rings from her fingers after gaining entry to her home by asking for water for his car radiator.
The 30-minute ordeal began at around 6.30pm on Saturday.Police believe the man had called at the detached house, in Rainford near St Helens in Merseyside, to ask for directions on the previous evening. After tying his victim to a chair the robber searched the house.
The loss of the jewellery is said to have left Lady Oxford feeling "devastated".
A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "He hit her a few times to make her compliant and then went through the room." After the robber escaped, Lady Oxford managed to reach the telephone and dialled 999. Police arrived within minutes to find her with her hands still bound together. Though not seriously injured she was taken to hospital and has been left "bruised and sore".
A police spokesman added: "This was a heartless attack on an elderly, vulnerable person and we are treating it very seriously. The gains for the offender in this sort of robbery are often very small compared to the trauma suffered by the victim." Police believe the robber had not deliberately chosen Lady Oxford because, after noticing the pictures of Sir Kenneth positioned all around the house, he asked her: "Have you got police in the family?"
It is thought the thief called at other houses in the area and police are appealing for witnesses. He is described as white, in his mid-twenties, slim with a fair complexion, around 6ft tall and unshaven.
Lady Oxford was married to Sir Kenneth, who died last year, for 44 years. He was chief constable of Merseyside between 1976 and 1989. During the Toxteth riots he became the first chief constable to use CS gas on the British mainland. He blamed the disturbances on "black hooligans". His most famous case was the controversial A6 murder for which James Hanratty was hanged in 1962.
He appointed the first woman assistant chief constable, Alison Halford, but she later brought an action against the force for sexual discrimination, describing Sir Kenneth's reign as a "tyranny".Reuse content