A gang of robbers trashed the home of a 71-year-old pensioner and threatened him with an iron bar after they realised he had no money in his house.
Eric Moreland said he has been left terrified after the six masked men broke into his Co Down home and ransacked his bedroom and living room looking for his cash.
New security alarms, locks and lights have now been fitted to the property after concerned neighbours lobbied the Housing Executive to help the pensioner. The gang forced their way into Mr Moreland’s home in the Westlands area of Crossgar at around 9pm last Thursday.
They threatened him with an iron bar and demanded that he hand over his money. When Mr Moreland continued to insist he did not have any, they trashed the house and fled empty handed.
“What happened to me was very frightening. Some of the men searched my wardrobe, while every drawer in the bedroom and living room was pulled out,” Mr Moreland told the Down Recorder.
“I don’t keep money in the house, never have and never will,” he added.
Mr Moreland’s neighbour, Paul Teggart, who is chairman of the Crossgar Community Association, said that the attack has left many of the older residents in the estate feeling vulnerable.
“There is a bad element out there. What they did to Eric was despicable.
“He lives in that house by himself and I would guess that is why those men targeted him. I believe he may have been watched,” said Mr Teggart.
“We are all going to have to become much more vigilant now and look out for each other. This sort of thing must not happen again so anyone who knows who these men are really need to tell the police. We cannot let them do this to anyone else,” he added.
Local councillor Terry Andrews said that those who attack the elderly “deserve no mercy at the hands of the law”.
“This was a terrible thing to happen to Mr Moreland. Criminals who engage in this type of criminality are the lowest of the low,” he added.
Following the attack, Councillor Maria McCarthy asked the PSNI to increase police patrols in the Crossgar area.
Anyone with information about the incident has been asked to contact police in Downpatrick on 0845 600 8000.
Story so far
There have been a number of high-profile crimes against the elderly in recent weeks. Earlier this month, five masked men broke into the home of brothers Jimmy (83) and Patsy (81) Murtagh and stole their pensions. Both brothers tried to tackle the men, but were struck with an iron bar. And in February, a 76-year-old woman was knocked unconscious by a robber in Portadown. Helen Agnew, who was with her 90 year-old neighbour at the time, tried to fight off her attacker, but was knocked over during the struggle.