A priest awoke to discover an axe-wielding gang in his parochial home, a Belfast councillor has said.
Sinn Fein Councillor Ryan Murphy said he was relieved no one was hurt when the home of the priest at Ligoniel’s St Vincent de Paul Church was broken into.
He said both the home and church were broken into at around 2am on Monday but was relieved the man was not hurt.
Councillor Murphy said: “The raiders ran off after being disturbed by the priest who had wakened during the break in.
“The thieves stole car keys for the priest’s vehicle and a minibus used by the local community and a sum of money.
“This was a terrifying incident for the priest and I’m relieved that he wasn’t hurt in the incident."
He added: "Breaking into someone’s home is always traumatic for the victim but is even more shameful that anyone would break into an amenity widely used by the local community.
“I am appealing to anyone with information on this incident to bring it to the police so these individuals can be taken off the streets.”
Several sets of keys were taken, as well as a sum of cash. A hatchet and shovel were recovered from the scene.
A suspect was described as being stocky or possibly wearing a heavily padded jacket. He also ran with a limp and was dressed in dark clothing. Police said he was observed calling to a small, thin, dark-coloured dog which followed him up the Ligoniel road.
Police are appealing for information.