EVEN a burglar has a heart . . . well, half a heart, at least.

In an extraordinary twist to a tragic tale, a burglar’s guilty conscience caught up with him and he returned some of the priceless items he stole from a Hampshire family’s home.

Clive and Trish Wilson were devastated when they returned home from a holiday to find burglars had ransacked their home.

Among the precious belongings that were pinched when the thieves ripped out a safe that was bolted to the wall was a travel journal written by their daughter Lisa, pictured below.

The journal was a poignant account of the 23-year-old’s final months as she travelled the world.

The former Brockenhurst College and Southampton Solent University student was killed in 2002 when the car she was in on her way to Australia’s Ayers Rock was involved in a crash.

But now, just days after the Daily Echo highlighted the Wilsons’ plea for the journal’s return, the guilt-ridden culprit sneaked up to their front door under cover of darkness and brought it back.

His movements were captured on CCTV cameras installed outside the couple’s home, but the figure, clad head to toe in black, is unidentifiable.

He can be seen placing the journal outside the family home but expensive and irreplaceable jewellery belonging to Trish, as well as Clive’s parents’ wedding rings, were not returned.

However, the couple, from Nomansland, say the journal means more to them than anything else. It was returned along with postcards that Lisa had sent home, and photographs of her trip.

Clive, 56, added: “We are shocked and just over the moon. We never really thought for one m i n u t e that we would get the journal back. It’s just amazing – it’s the best Christmas present.

“Trish was shouting and screaming when we found it, it’s unbelievable. It’s a big thank you to the Daily Echo for running the story – it’s obviously pricked their conscience.”

He added: “The first thing we will do now is take a copy of it, and we cannot wait to read it all again.

“It’s a great relief to have it back. It’s bittersweet because the jewellery is still missing, but it shows that everyone has at least a bit of decency inside them – even the burglars have a little bit of heart.”

The couple, who run a car parts business, were at their company’s Christmas celebration when the burglar returned the journal, placing it on a wooden box the pet cat sleeps in by the front door.

They found it the following day.

The moment was captured on the Wilsons’ CCTV cameras, although the black clad burglar’s face is covered.

Trish, 59, said: “It’s the best Christmas present. When I think about what’s happened, it always comes back to Lisa. She saw the good in everyone, no matter who they were. I think she touched the hearts of these guys who broke into our house.

“It proves her point that there is good in everyone.”

Officers are now examining the journal for fingerprints to see if it can lead them to the burglar.

Anyone with information about the burglary, which happened at 11.30pm on November 30, should call Wiltshire Police on 0845 408 7000.