BURGLARS ransacked the home of a merchant seaman and stole thousands of pounds of musical instruments while he was working in the Middle East.

The 50-year-old, who works in communications for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, travelled for 36 hours when he received the devastating news that his Heaton home had been raided by thieves.

The break-in happened between June 22 and June 24, but the man, who asked to remain anonymous, only learned of the crime this week when he called a friend.

He said: “They have taken things that are so dear to me, including a cherry red Gibson guitar, which my friend, who has passed away, always recommended me to get.”

Prolific thief Wayne Richmond, aged 43, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton, appeared at Bolton Magistrates Court where he admitted receiving stolen goods. He will be sentenced on July 25.

Police discovered that some of the items had been sold to Cash Generator in Bradshawgate, Bolton.

The store had already sold some and they had been sent to customers across the country — the items will now be retrieved.

Items that have been found include the cherry red guitar and an expensive Korg Kronus keyboard.

Instruments still missing include a Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar in black, Fender Telecaster and a Fender Stratocaster guitar, an electric Yamaha violin and a guitar synthesiser and a Takamine acoustic guitar.

Sentimental items include a collection of Knebworth posters from 1975 to 1979 and two original paintings bought while on holiday on the QE2.

The victim said: “My house is a mess. They have gone through everything. The police have been absolutely fantastic. If I can get everything back then there will be no need to claim through insurance — that would be the perfect solution.”

He has since upped security at his home.

Det Insp Charlotte Cadden, from Bolton North INPT, said: “This result sends out the message to offenders that police in Bolton will pursue those involved in handling stolen goods, taking a zero tolerance approach.

“Officers are continuing to investigate the burglary and urge anyone with any information to call the police.”

A spokesman for Cash Generator said: “We ask all our customers to provide proof of identity for every transaction in stores and we are pleased that this process has assisted the police in the recovery of the goods.

“We have a great relationship with the police, have been assisting them in their investigation and will continue to improve our processes to further address fraudulent activity.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.