An elderly couple were robbed in their south Belfast home on Tuesday evening, February 3.
At around 7pm five men forced their way into the home in the Woodbreda Avenue area of Newtownbreda and lifted the 78-year-old man off the ground and threw him to the floor.
“The male victim opened the door, thinking it was his niece, and five males pushed their way in,” said a police spokesman.
“One of them was armed with what appeared to be a spray canister of some kind which he threatened the man with.
“Two of the intruders stayed with him while the other three went upstairs.
“The man's 80-year-old wife was in bed and they threatened her. They ransacked the place and left with a sum of cash.”
A “new-shape” silver Mazda car was seen leaving the area immediately after the incident and heading towards the city.
One of the men was described as having “bright blonde bleached hair”.
South Belfast MLA Carmel Hanna said she is particularly alarmed by the nature of the attack.
Mrs Hanna expressed sympathy for the victims and urged continued vigilance.
Speaking about the incident, Castlereagh councillor Sara Duncan said: “This was a shocking crime carried out against an elderly couple in their own home. To throw a 78-year-old man to the floor to steal a sum of money just shows the callous nature of those who carried out this burglary.
“The fact that five men terrorised a frail elderly couple is deeply distressing.
“This must have been a terrifying ordeal for this couple. I hope they are able to recover quickly from this attack and will be able to feel secure in their own home.
“I would urge anybody with information about this burglary to contact the police urgently.”
Des Meredith from the Community Association of Belvoir and Milltown said: “There has been an upsurge of robberies against elderly people in the area.
“The police have been fairly proactive and have distributed alarms for the elderly.
“All we can do is watch out for people in the area and keep an eye out for them.”
Anyone who saw a silver Mazda in the area at the time, who saw any suspicious activity, or who has any information about the robbery, can contact Bangor detectives on 0845 600 8000.
Information may also be given anonymously via the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.