A mum says she feels violated after finding a workman going through her knicker draw.
Ashleigh Blakey was left feeling “violated and exposed” after CCTV in her room picked up the tradesperson when she was out of the house.
She had headed out to Newcastle for a job interview and left the workman alone in the house to fix an alarm.
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She received a notification that said a motion had been detected inside her room and as such opened her phone to see what it was.
From Darlington, she says she saw the workman going through her knicker draw – allegedly even stealing some items.
Speaking to ChronicleLive, she said: “It all started when my house alarm needed fixing, and this man came to my property to carry out the work.
“After he arrived, I had to leave to go to Newcastle for a job interview. I've suffered from domestic abuse in the past and so have a CCTV camera in my bedroom that faces outside, but it can be swivelled 360 degrees, so I turned the camera around to face my bedroom while I was out.
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“The camera gives me alerts on my mobile phone whenever there's motion detected."
She explained her surprise to see him up there with all the work that needed doing located downstairs.
"There was no need for him to be in my bedroom at all, all of the fittings were downstairs," she said. "I caught him on my CCTV going into my bedroom and going through my underwear drawer.
"When I spotted him doing this, I called Thirteen Housing and it took 20 minutes to get through to someone. I wouldn't return to the house until he'd gone. I felt sick, I was sweating and shaking."
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Following the incident, he was immediately fired by the company and arrested.
He was subsequently released with "no real prospect of conviction".
She added: "Never in my life have I ever experienced anything like that before from a professional. It's bang out of order."
She says Thirteen gave her £200 to clean her property.
"There was money in the house and my laptop but nothing else was taken, just my underwear," said Ashleigh.
"I have a teenage daughter and what if she'd been in the house at the time alone? It makes me feel sick. It made me feel violated and exposed, and I shouldn't feel like that in my own home."
Thirteen's executive director of customer services David Ripley said: "The safety of our customers is our absolute priority.
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“As soon as we became aware of the incident last year, we carried out a full investigation, and we moved quickly to deal with the individual who no longer works for us.
“Colleagues spoke with and visited the customer and apologised for what occurred. We also provided options to the customer if she wished to pursue them, as well as compensation for the unfortunate event.
“We have clear behavioural standards and values that all our staff must follow, and we greatly regret that the actions of a sole employee have caused distress and we would like to once again apologise to the customer.
“I can assure customers that references and pre-employment checks are carried out and where required DBS checks are undertaken in line with the duties of the role’s colleagues perform at Thirteen."
The Daily Star has contacted Thirteen Housing for further comment.
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