The community has reacted strongly to the news this week that a south Belfast family, living less than 100 yards from the local police station, endured a violent and terrifying burglary ordeal that lasted two hours.
Shortly after midnight in the early hours of Tuesday morning (February 15), three masked men wearing balaclavas and armed with sticks and irons bars, forced their way into the family home of a local business owner living in the Rathdrum Street area.
Though the householder sustained injuries to his face from the “vicious” attack, his wife and his two teenage daughters and young son were left unhurt.
SDLP’s Niall Kelly said: “To happen just yards away from Lisburn Road police station, is a stark reminder of the need for robust community safety measures from both the PSNI and local councils.
“This vicious attack, in which a family were held captive and threatened for two hours, ended with a large sum of money being stolen and a 47 year old man being hospitalised with a broken jaw.
“Rathdrum Street is a quiet street, just off the Lisburn Road, and located directly opposite the police station.
“For a violent crime like this to happen in this area was a real shock, not just to myself, but to those who live in the area,” he said.
“The people I spoke to could hardly believe that something like this would happen in their street.
“I think this house was most certainly targeted and a large sum of money was taken. With a police station only 100 yards from the house in question shows the audacity of these burglars.”
A concerned local resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Community Telegraph: “Having a police station opposite the house didn’t make a blind bit of difference with these burglars.
“Speaking to neighbours who live on the same street, this was a quiet family — they have all told me they feel this man’s household was specifically targeted because he is a local business owner.
“Those that come around here to rob are not put off by the presence of the police station. It makes no difference at all as the police just go in and out of the stations with their cars. You rarely see officers patrolling the area — which is what we really need.
“Alley gates are a good deterrent and have served residents well but burglars will then target the homes were there are no alley gates.
“I remember when we had officers patrolling on night beat — that just doesn’t happen now.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.