Woman due to give birth is taken to hospital in shock after burglary gang strikes in early hours
A woman due to have a baby in a few days' time was rushed to hospital on Monday with heart palpitations after a traumatic creeper-style robbery at the family home.
Solene Nugent and her husband Brendan were sleeping in their house in Mallusk on Sunday night with their two sons, aged four and 11.
As they were all in their beds upstairs, burglars managed to reach in through the letterbox and steal a set of keys that gave access to the house and their vehicles.
Along with the family's Audi Q7 car, the thieves made off with Brendan's work van, a 60in Samsung smart TV, laptops, wallets and handbags.
The burglary is thought to have happened around 4am and has left the family not only devastated, but nervous.
When the reality of what happened sank in Solene, who is due to give birth on Monday, was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital with palpitations.
Thankfully, after several checks, she and the baby were found to be all right and she was allowed to return home.
Brendan said: "We didn't hear a thing when the robbery was taking place.
"My wife and I were sleeping, as were our two sons.
"The house was fully locked and the heavy curtains on the front door were closed.
"It seems the thieves managed to reach through the letterbox with some kind of device and lift the set of keys from the hall table, which is about five feet from the door.
"They came in and took the TV, laptops and other items without making a noise.
"The police say the thieves were probably wearing socks over their shoes to avoid making footprints and to prevent their footwear from making a noise on the floors.
"My son was the first to discover that we had been robbed on Monday morning, just after 7am, and was shaken by the whole ordeal.
"In fact, both my sons and wife have been left very nervous about the entire incident.
"My wife is due to have our baby on Monday, but on the morning after the robbery she complained about having palpitations in her heart.
"We had no vehicles, but thankfully our neighbours have been very supportive and one of them took Solene to the hospital for checks.
"She was allowed home again that evening and everything is ok."
Brendan's van has since been found, but the family's Audi car and the rest of the items have not been recovered, prompting him to offer a £1,000 reward for information leading to their return.
There had been around £5,000 worth of tools in the van that Brendan uses for his sign business, but these were stolen by the gang.
Brendan added: "My wife was feeling pretty bad on Tuesday and I stayed at home from work that day to look after her.
"Both my sons are still nervous, more so the younger one, who is still having some nightmares about it all.
"In fact, we are all having problems sleeping since then.
"I am angry about it. This is obviously the work of a professional gang going around targeting people.
"I have offered £1,000 for any information that leads to the recovery of my car, or towards the thieves being caught."
He added: "I just hope they are caught before targeting anyone else."