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At least 12 elderly people are targeted by criminals every day in Northern Ireland

By Victoria Leonard

More than 12 elderly people every day are victims of crime in Northern Ireland, shocking figures have revealed.

Police statistics show more than 4,500 people aged 65-plus were targeted in just 12 months.

The stats, which cover the period between February 2016 and January this year, show pensioners have been victims of crimes including violence, burglary and sexual offences.

The most common offence against over-65s was criminal damage, with 1,276 reported incidents. This was followed by theft (1,063 incidents), and burglaries, which accounted for 1,005 crimes. Pensioners also reported 239 cases of violence with injury, including homicide, 499 incidents of violence without injury and 62 sexual offences.

Recent weeks have seen a spate of crimes against the elderly.

The most recent incident occurred at midnight on Tuesday, when a man in his late 60s was tied up, assaulted and had his head covered with a pillowcase as thieves ransacked his house in Kilkeel's Slieveshan Park.

The victim freed himself after the men left and raised the alarm through a neighbour. He was left with facial and head injuries and money was taken.

It follows at least four other burglaries this month against pensioners.

On March 8, a married couple in their 70s from Tandragee were left tied up in their bathroom by a gang of five masked men.

On March 12, a woman in her 70s from west Belfast was treated for shock and a cut to her head after confronting an intruder armed with a screwdriver.

Last Thursday, another woman in her 80s was held down by an intruder in her north Belfast home while a second man ransacked her bedroom.

Then on Sunday, a woman in her 80s from Forkhill was burgled by two men in their 20s.

Paschal McKeown from Age NI urged people to look out for older people.

"It is crucial that older people are able to feel safe and secure in their own homes and local communities and that steps are taken to prevent and tackle such crimes," he said.

"While the likelihood of an older person being the victim of a crime is low, it is fear of crime that can often lead to isolation and loneliness."

The PSNI said they "take the issue of crime against older people extremely seriously and remain committed to putting those responsible before the courts."

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