The elderly founder of Barratt Homes is recovering after raiders burst into his mansion and stole jewellery worth thousands of pounds.
Masked men broke into Sir Lawrie Barratt's huge home in Corbridge, Northumberland, on Monday evening while he and two other people were inside and took items including gold, diamonds and rubies.
Northumbria Police, who have issued photographs of the family jewellery the thieves took, refused to identify the victims of the burglary.
But villagers confirmed that the property tycoon, whose granddaughter is married to Newcastle United defender Sol Campbell, was the target of the three raiders, who had Scottish accents.
One neighbour said: "It's the talk of the village. Everybody hopes he is all right, because he is a lovely older gentleman. There has been a lot of police activity, with officers coming door-to-door along Main Street. They wouldn't say what exactly happened but called it a serious incident."
Sir Lawrie made a fortune after founding Barratt Developments in the 1950s, which became one of the country's largest housebuilders. He is now retired and in his 80s.
Another local was surprised the criminals managed to get past the high security. "The place is surrounded by cameras," he said. "It was hard enough getting in to collect conkers when we were little."
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "Three men entered a house on Main Street, Corbridge, at shortly before 5.45pm on Monday January 10, before making off with a quantity of jewellery. The occupants of the house were inside the property at the time of the incident. They were shaken but not injured.
"Investigating officers are appealing for information to trace the three offenders who were all wearing dark clothing and balaclavas, and are believed to have spoken with Scottish accents."
Sergeant Andy Fairlamb, of the Northumbria Police Major Investigation Team, said: "Thankfully the occupants were not hurt but this was a distressing incident for them. I would like to reassure the community that we are doing everything we possibly can to find those responsible and I would appeal to anyone who may have any information about this incident to come forward."