A BOYFRIEND ended up proposing in the back of a police van after burglars snatched the ring he planned to use in a New Year’s Eve surprise.
Jason Lyon hoped to pop the big question to Nicola Waites as they prepared to welcome in 2012 at a family party.
But when the couple returned home from a Boxing Day celebration, they discovered burglars had struck –- and the engagement ring was gone.
When Jason, 20, was forced to tell officers about the missing £330 diamond ring, he feared the surprise proposal would be ruined.
So, as the couple waited in a police van to give a statement while forensic officers took fingerprints from their Chester-le-Street home, the sales assistant popped the question to 21-year-old Nicola.
The couple, who had met at school, began dating in March.
Jason bought the ring after she had spotted it in a magazine.
Now they plan to marry as soon as possible.
He said: “I thought the cat was out of the bag.
“There was only one reason for a ring being there, so I said the whole lot.
“I knew this was the lass I wanted to be with. She’s loving and kind – everything I wanted in a lass.
“When I go out of the house I can’t wait to see her again.
“She’s my best friend as well as my girlfriend.”
He added he wanted to start the New Year off on a positive note and planned to get down on one knee once the bells had chimed.
He has branded the burglars as “scum” and “heartless.”
Nicola added: “I was overwhelmed and sad at the same time.
“I had no idea. We’ve been through a lot together and I love him.
“He’s my support.”
The couple had left Nicola’s semi-detached house for her now-fiancee’s parents’ house at 4pm on Christmas Eve, with Jason and his father driving back to take Christmas gifts to Nicola’s two-year-old daughter Charlie, at about 1pm on Boxing Day.
They found the door to the house open and the engagement ring stolen from an upstairs bedroom drawer.
Also missing were two televisions, a Nintendo Wii, a camera, an air rifle, passports and bank statements.
Nicola’s mum, Debbie Winn, 43, said: “It wasn’t the romantic proposal he had in mind. He was going to propose to her in front of his family, they are Scottish and it’s family tradition.”
Anyone with information about the break-in is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.