Burglars tied woman up and then set fire to her home in Clough
A woman "could have been burned alive" after being tied up by two masked men who started a fire during a burglary, an MLA has said.
The PSNI said the woman was rescued from a house on School Road outside the village of Clough, Co Down, by passers-by shortly after 1pm yesterday.
A police spokesperson said they had received a report that two masked men had entered a house in the area, and that a woman in her 50s who had been in the house at the time was "tied up by the intruders, who made off with an iPad and a Mac Book and a grey coloured Peugeot 206 car".
He added: "During the incident a fire was started in an upstairs room.
"Two members of the public who were passing at the time came to the aid of the female and assisted her to safety.
"Thankfully due to the quick thinking of the passers-by the female was not injured but left shocked by her ordeal."
Police and the Fire Service attended and extinguished the fire.
However, the blaze caused "significant damage".
South Down MLA Jim Wells, who knows the family, described the incident as "vicious" and "sinister."
"Those burglars knew that there was a fire and that they were leaving that woman without any way of escape, which is a very sinister development in burglaries," he said.
"This woman could have been burned alive had it not been for the quick thinking of two neighbours who saved her."
Roisin Mulgrew, the chairwoman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, described the incident as "horrific" and said that the woman had been lucky to escape with her life.
"It's absolutely shocking and disturbing to think that there could be people out there who could do this type of thing," she said.
"This is quite a violent, horrific act which has no place in our community.
"If it hadn't been for the passers-by we could have been looking at a fatality.
"These people have no respect for life or possessions.
"Gadgets can be replaced, but that woman will be left feeling devastated and vulnerable."
Ms Mulgrew said that the local community had experienced a "spate of robberies" last year, which had appeared to stop before restarting recently.
"In the south Armagh area last year we had a number of robberies and it seemed to stop for a while, now we have had a few more robberies that have taken place," she continued.
"Thankfully on most occasions the houses have been empty.
"This ordeal will have been bad enough for this lady. I can only imagine what might have happened to an older person.
"Thankfully we have a good community here who will come together to support the victim.
"I hope she gets over the shock soon, and I would urge the whole community to be extra vigilant.
"I would also urge anyone who thinks they witnessed anything suspicious to phone the police."
The PSNI is appealing for anyone who witnessed any suspicious vehicles or people in the area yesterday afternoon, or anyone with any information about the incident, to contact detectives at Ardmore Police Station on 101, quoting references 952 19/02/18. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.