A pensioner whose house was ransacked while she was at her new minister’s installation has returned to church after recovering from her trauma and bears the burglars no ill will, her rector said.
Thieves forced their way into the house where she has lived for almost 40 years and turned over every room before making off with a large sum of cash and jewellery.
The woman, who is in her late 70s and lives alone, made the grim discovery when she returned to her Eglinton home after taking part in the special service for Rector of Faughanvale, Paul Hoey.
On Sunday, the newly appointed rector at St Canice’s Church of Ireland said he was saddened that his first duty was to visit an elderly woman whose home was burgled while she was at his installation service. But he said the pensioner is recovering with help from family and friends.
Rev Hoey said his parishioner was badly traumatised, but courageously returned to church on Sunday.
He said yesterday: “I heard about the robbery at this lady’s home on the morning after my installation and went around to see her and I visited her again today.
“She is recovering from the trauma with help from family, friends and neighbours who have been with her all weekend and helped get her house in order again.
“She is a very gracious lady who bears no ill will to the people who ransacked every room.
“She was back at church on Sunday and was welcomed and supported by the congregation.
“This was a despicable crime against a devoted member of our parish and this community. Quite apart from the theft, the sense of violation in such incidents can be extremely traumatic for victims, particularly older people.
“I am grateful that fellow parishioners responded — as Christians should — in such a caring and compassionate way. I have assured the victim she will have our support and be in our prayers in the days ahead.
“I pray, also, that the person or persons responsible for the break-in will experience a change of heart and see the error of their ways. They, too, need our prayers.
“I appeal for anyone with information to give it to the police and I hope the perpetrators are apprehended as quickly as possible.”
The PSNI have urged people right across the community to ‘Be a good neighbour’, especially with winter evenings drawing in. They have asked people to look out for one another, not only regarding possible break-ins but also the general well-being of neighbours.
Appealing for information, PSNI Inspector Moore said: “Between 7.30pm and 11pm on Friday the house was entered and a sum of money stolen.
“I would appeal to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area or who has any information to contact Police at Strand Road on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.”