An 84-year-old woman who was left suicidal after she was beaten during a robbery at her Belfast home has been targeted for a second time in a “horrendous” attack.
Detectives are investigating after frail Josie Hamilton answered the door of her home in the Shankill Road area to a man who claimed to be from the police.
The callous caller conned his way into the 84-year-old woman’s house by saying he was there to return the money stolen from her in a robbery last September during which she sustained bruises and cuts.
Once in the property he rummaged through a bag in Ms Hamilton’s living room before making off.
The incident happened last Wednesday afternoon.
The elderly woman made headlines last September when she spoke in public about how the distressing attack — during which she was beaten “black and blue” by two masked men who pushed her up against a wall in her home. She required hospital treatment and said she felt suicidal in the aftermath of the assault.
Community worker Ian McLaughlin visited Ms Hamilton after the latest incident and told how she has been left traumatised after falling victim for a second time.
“It is horrendous,” he said.
“I can only imagine what this poor lady is thinking after another attack on her in the safety of her own home.
“The alarming thing for me is this lady let this man into her home because he convinced her he was a policeman returning money from a previous crime.
“I think that’s very worrying.
“Allegedly he said he was returning money kids had stolen from her previously so he obviously gained her confidence and she let him into her home.”
Mr McLaughlin said the pensioner had been left confused and traumatised.
“All she said was ‘I can’t take much more of this’,” he said.
“She is extremely confused and my heart goes out to her.
“I don’t know what words I can use to try and comfort her in her own home.
“The neighbours, I have to say, have been fantastic.”
Mr McLaughlin urged anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the vicinity of Josie’s home last Wednesday at 2pm, to “bring that information to the PSNI and let’s get these people off the streets”.
“Heaven only knows what’s going on in that lady’s mind,” he said.
Ms Hamilton was too shaken to speak publicly yesterday.
A police spokeswoman said: “Shortly after 2pm (on Wednesday) it was reported that a man called at the home of an elderly woman in the area.
“When she answered the door the man entered the house and searched through a bag in the living room before leaving the premises.
“It is not known if anything was taken.
“The woman was not injured during the incident.”
Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to contact CID at Tennent Street on 0845 600 8000.
Or you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Josie Hamilton’s story made headlines last year after she spoke out about the trauma of being beaten up by two masked men as they robbed her Belfast home. The 84-year-old suffered cuts and bruises when she pushed up against a wall.
Previously, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that last year more than 1,000 pensioners were victims of a burglary or robbery, with 58 personal robberies where the victim was confronted in their home and attacked or threatened with violence. In May, police launched Operation Bullent in an effort to track offenders who target vulnerable older people.