Brazilian becomes latest Liverpool player burgled

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The Independent Online

While the midfielder's away, the cat burglar will play. The only people who seem to have the measure of the Liverpool manager's squad rotation policy are the thieves targeting the houses of the football club's players.

As if a disappointingly brief cameo during the team's shaky draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday was not bad enough, Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva arrived home to find that he had become the latest in a long line of players to be burgled while he was playing.

Lucas is the eighth member of the team to be targeted by burglars in two years, after the club's captain Steven Gerrard, forwards Dirk Kuyt and Robbie Keane, goalkeeper Pepe Reina, defender Daniel Agger and former players Peter Crouch and Jerzy Dudek were all hit.

The opportunists struck at Lucas's home in the suburb of Woolton as he sat on the bench at Anfield. The 21-year-old returned home later that night to discover that the Olympic bronze medal he won in Beijing this summer had been stolen, along with Brazil and Liverpool shirts.

Police attended the address and house-to-house inquiries were conducted. Acting Detective Chief Inspector Peter Parry of Merseyside police said: "I would like to empathise with Mr Leiva and his partner for what must have been an upsetting experience.

"Taken from the address was an amount of jewellery and some very distinctive football and sports memorabilia. These items have significant personal importance to Mr Leiva and they were associated with some very cherished memories." The previous victim was the club's big summer signing, Robbie Keane. Thieves broke in to his city centre penthouse while he was on international duty with the Republic of Ireland in September and stole a watch and his wife's jewellery.

Steven Gerrard lost a Rolex watch and two sets of car keys when his Formby home was targeted in December 2007. The England star's wife Alex Curran and two children were asleep inside at the time of the raid. At the time, detectives said they believed the burglaries were linked, since they all took place while the footballers were attending away games. The Lucas robbery is the first to occur while Liverpool were playing at home.

After Gerrard was targeted, a club spokesman announced that it would start looking at ways to provide cover for its employees' houses while they were attending fixtures outside the city, working in co-operation with the police.

The most spectacular heist came in May 2007, when Pepe Reine's Porsche was taken while he played for Liverpool in a Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. The vehicle was found burnt out in the west Derby area of the city.