Belfast Telegraph

Trio's tiger kidnap terror: Jewellery shop owners traumatised after raid by gang

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

The owners of a jewellery shop were left traumatised after being held captive by a masked gang before being dumped in an isolated field miles from their home.

Three members of the same family were taken hostage during the so-called tiger-kidnapping in Warrenpoint.

The family were at home when the gang forced their way into the property at 8.30pm on Sunday. A 57-year-old woman was ordered to go to the family's jewellery shop, Heaney's, in the town and retrieve a number of expensive items.

Her 53-year-old husband and the couple's 20-year-old daughter were held captive during this time.

Once the woman returned, all three were driven to Mayobridge, roughly six miles away, and abandoned in a field.

The gang then escaped leaving their victims traumatised by their ordeal.

Earlier this year police said they were following "all lines of inquiry" in relation to concerns of an organised criminal gang operating in Co Down following a spate of similar incidents.

The family was too distressed to speak publicly yesterday.

South Down MLA Karen McKevitt described the incident as shocking.

"This must have been a terrifying ordeal for the family," she said.

"The entire community is in shock at hearing something as horrific as this could happen in Warrenpoint.

"This was late on a Sunday evening, at half past eight when the terrible ordeal unfolded and these evil thugs subjected them to unimaginable horror.

"Everyone is relieved to hear the family is physically unhurt, but this was an extremely traumatic ordeal and they are, understandably, badly shaken."

The kidnappers made off from the area in an unknown vehicle.

Detectives have appealed for anybody who saw any suspicious activity or vehicles in the Warrenpoint and Mayobridge areas on Sunday evening to contact them.

Warrenpoint councillor Michael Carr, who is current chair of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership, also knows the family affected.

"I would appeal to anyone who knows anything about what happened to contact the police immediately as these thugs need to be taken off the streets," he said.

STORY SO FAR

In January a spate of armed robberies carried out by masked men within a 20-mile radius struck fear in the rural community. Five masked men tied up a man and woman, striking him in the head with a handgun during one of the attacks in Banbridge. It followed two similar robberies by a masked gang of five.

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