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Terror as gang burst into Belfast OAP's bedroom

By Deborah McAleese and Joanne Fleming

Published 08/10/2015

A woman in her 80s has spoken of her shock at being confronted by a gang of masked men in her bedroom
A woman in her 80s has spoken of her shock at being confronted by a gang of masked men in her bedroom

A woman in her 80s has spoken of her shock at being confronted by a gang of masked men in her bedroom.

She said she was in bed after 9pm on Tuesday when the men turned on the light in her room and ransacked it.

The gang-of-four removed the kitchen window of her home in the Orangefield area of east Belfast to gain access but left empty-handed.

"Finding them in your bedroom is horrible - a terrible experience," the woman said. "They were wearing scarves and hats over their faces.

"It happened so quickly. I got up and shouted at them to go away. I said: 'Don't come near me'. One said: 'Sit down on the bed', but there was no pushing."

The woman heard one of gang say they were "in the wrong house" during the 10 minutes as her bedroom was pulled apart.

The pensioner, who has lived in the property for more than 40 years, said she believed the men were in their early 20s and said while the intrusion was distressing, she was relieved to be unhurt.

"They threw my blinds and things like my oven gloves into the back garden," she added.

"I wouldn't like to say what I think of the people who did this, but if they are still living with their parents, dear God help their parents."

One of the woman's sons said he was disturbed by the professional nature of the burglary, but relieved that his mother was not hurt. By her side yesterday as additional security measures were put in place, he praised his mother for staying calm and the police for arriving within 10 minutes.

"A shock like that is not good for any elderly person," he said. "She did not panic, though she was shaking like a leaf later. The police deserve the highest of praise, they were great."

But the woman's son added more that bobbies on the beat would reassure him. "I would like to see more patrols, but it is the old story - the money is not there," he said.

One of the woman's neighbours said there had been a noticeable increase in burglaries and bogus callers in the area in the past year, estimating "between 12 and 15" incidents near his home alone. The recent incidents sparked demands for increased police patrols.

Last week, three masked men bound a woman's hands and stole gold rings from her fingers during a burglary at her home in the nearby Grand Parade area.

And just a few weeks earlier, at Dunraven Avenue, four masked men also tried to rob a pensioner at his home. Police have not connected any of the masked gang burglaries, but UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said: "Naturally, people are going to think there is some sort of a link.

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