An elderly man was hit with a hammer during a terrifying two-hour ordeal in his home – the latest in a spate of violent gang robberies in a rural area.
The victim – aged in his 70s – needed hospital treatment for his injuries and his wife was left badly shaken.
Three men wearing masks and gloves forced their way into their home on the Crossbar Road in Ballynahinch, Co Down. They rummaged through the property from 11.30pm on Thursday, leaving two hours later with jewellery.
The shocking attack is the latest in a series of armed robberies carried out by masked men within a 20-mile radius. People in the area said many were fearful they too could be targeted.
Last night police were urged to dedicate more resources to track down those responsible.
"We were hoping police would have an idea who is behind this," said Ulster Unionist councillor Walter Lyons.
"It's absolutely disgraceful people are being attacked in their own homes. What is wrong with these people? It's pure thuggery."
Earlier this year there was revulsion at three robberies within one week. Five masked men tied up a man and woman, striking the man in the head with a handgun.
It followed two similar attacks during which a masked gang of five targeted vulnerable homeowners, prompting fears the thugs were targeting those they thought kept cash in their properties.
Five men, one armed with a screwdriver, forced their way into the property of 76-year-old Patsy Boyle and his wife Bridget (80) in Ballynahinch, claiming to be from the LVF. As they made off with almost £3,000, one brazenly told their victims they were "away to count all this money".
A 35-year-old was yesterday arrested and remanded in custody in relation to the latest attack and breaching Crown Court bail.
Police inquiries continue.