Terror in Newtownabbey as burglary gang ties up family, beats father with hammer and ransacks home
A young Chinese father has spoken of his fear after his wife and two young children were tied up and threatened in a terrifying late night burglary.
Four masked men brandishing a suspected firearm tied up the couple and their daughter and son before barricading them in their bathroom as they ransacked their Co Antrim home looking for anything of value.
The terror for the "quiet, hardworking family" continued as the father was struck several times on the legs with a hammer as the gang ransacked the house.
The father, thought to be in his 30s, was later treated in hospital for his injuries.
Police reported that while the woman and two children were physically unhurt, the family were left "deeply shocked".
Yesterday as the couple and their children, along with some friends, returned to their home after the police forensic investigation was finished, the father spoke briefly to the Belfast Telegraph.
"We do not want to talk in case there is any further trouble," he explained.
"We work very hard and have lived here for about 10 years, nothing like this has ever happened before."
The gang made off with a car, a sum of money and jewellery in the early hours of Tuesday while the stricken family came to terms with their ordeal.
The robbers pounced on the family as they left their car to enter their home around 1.20am, using the weapon to force themselves into the detached property.
The family were all made to lie on the kitchen floor before the gang made the husband and his wife leave their children – a daughter aged around 10 and a son aged around eight – go upstairs to seek out any valuables and hand them over.
The family were all then tied up and taken to the bathroom, where they were barricaded inside as the gang further searched through the home.
Neighbours in the quiet cul-de-sac on Fernridge Road in Newtownabbey were stunned to learn of the terrifying ordeal.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said: "This is absolutely terrible, I really feel for this young family.
"While I don't know them every well, we do give each other Christmas cards and wave when we see the children out playing or them going in and out to their car.
"All I know is that they are very hard-working, quiet and a very nice family who keep themselves to themselves."
Alliance MLA Anna Lo branded the robbery as "despicable".
She urged local people to report anything they knew about to the police to ensure that those responsible were arrested and punished.
"This is absolutely shocking, to think that two children were tied up and made to lie on the floor.
"My sympathies go to this family, who have been subjected to this terrifying aggravated burglary."
Newtownabbey deputy mayor Dineen Walker said: "I can't believe that this happened in our borough.
"This is a quiet, hard-working, decent family and the irony of it is that those who are behind this are probably not working, and think they can just take money from those who do work."
Police have appealed for information.
People can ring CID at Newtownabbey or use the new non-emergency number 101, or the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111.
"This was a very, very nasty burglary.
"Just to think of those two young children being made to lie on the floor while their parents are taken away.
"The family must be traumatised after this."
SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland