Belfast Telegraph

PSNI hunts cross-border gang preying on the elderly

By Colin O'carroll

The PSNI is hunting a violent gang which fled into Northern Ireland after targeting a series of elderly people in their isolated homes in Co Donegal.

The brutal gang has attacked and beaten a 96-year-old woman in one of at least eight recent robberies.

They were pursued by gardai after a four-hour crime spree on Monday and fled across the border into Londonderry in an English-registered car.

Police in Derry believe they have identified the attackers as a gang based in the city and in Sheffield in England.

An 86-year-old pensioner was one of the victims robbed in her own home.

She wept as she told how the brutal robbers ransacked her home.

The woman lives alone in a quiet rural area outside Convoy, Co Donegal.

Several other pensioners were targeted in a four-hour crime spree in the east of the county on the same day.

Monday’s rampage came less than 72 hours after thieves stole a substantial amount of money from Greta Lilly (96) in Buncrana.

“I was terrified and I'm still shaking,” the victim said as neighbours took turns to be with her. “A man came to the front door and said he was looking for a dog which had been lost.

“Then he just pushed past me. There was a girl with him and she stood like a guard over me while he went went through things. He didn't get anything because I don't have anything to take. I'm just thankful they didn't hit me; I could have been killed, so I'm thankful for that.”

As she wiped tears from her face, she added: “I don't know what sort of people would do this to someone like me in my own home. It's just terrible.”

Her milkman and neighbour Brendan McElhinney (34) had his cab raided while he was delivering milk.

“They didn't get anything because I had my money satchel with me,” he said. “I'm OK, I can get over something like that, but for a lovely old lady in her 90s, it is something else altogether.”

The gang raided eight homes using an English-registered car which had arrived in the past few days. Eyewitnesses said a ferry ticket was seen dangling from a mirror inside the car.

“Gardai gave chase to the vehicle and it crossed the border into Derry,” said Garda Superintendent Vincent O'Brien. “The PSNI provided assistance and we have now identified the people we believe were responsible.”

Pensioner Greta spent a fourth night in Letterkenny General Hospital last night as locals launched a campaign to raise money to buy her new windows.

Thieves stole the money she had been saving up to pay for home improvements.

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