Grandmother's anguish as Limavady home raided while she lay in hospital
A 78-year-old woman has told of her heartbreak after callous thugs raided her home and stole jewellery of immense sentimental value - while she recovered from an operation.
Christina McCartney was in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast this week having an operation when her home was targeted.
Her house in Limavady was ransacked in the burglary but what has compounded her hurt more is that precious gold jewellery - some of which she has had for more than 50 years - was taken.
She told the Belfast Telegraph she is heartbroken at the thought of someone having her items which include a necklace her late husband William gave her when they got engaged in 1957, her engagement ring, her mother's wedding ring and a ring from her late daughter.
The brave woman, who has returned to her house, said she is glad she wasn't there when it happened.
She said: "I was in total shock, I didn't think it would ever happen to me. Most of the items are all sentimental, my engagement ring, a necklace my husband bought me the day I got engaged in 1957.
"It means a lot to me. My daughter gave me a ring just before she died, it's gone too. All my jewellery is gone."
Christina branded those responsible as "despicable".
She said: "It's that they came into my house and used some kind of crowbar on my front door and broke it all. I have to get a new front door. I think they are despicable. It's awful and just terrible."
Christina says she has a feeling those responsible may have been watching and knew she wasn't home.
"I think they are just scum of the earth especially doing that to vulnerable people."
Christina said despite the ordeal she feels safe in her house now and is surrounded by good neighbours.
She added: "It is heartbreaking. It's a good job it happened when I wasn't here because you never know what may have happened."
She described the mess her house was left in after the incident.
"They took out every drawer and cupboard and ransacked it and left it lying there. They didn't do any big damage but opened all the drawers."
The elderly woman admitted she was still in shock adding that "it's something that's hard to get over".
Having lived there for almost 40 years she has never experienced anything like this before.
"My husband and I lived here from after we were married and never had any trouble, we were married in December 1957."
Christina says she is devastated that someone out there has her belongings.
"They were looking for gold and money - stuff they knew they could get rid of. The thought that someone else is going to be running about with my stuff."
In the wake of the burglary, the family have received a huge outpouring of support as Christina's grand-daughter shared images of the jewellery online for people to be mindful if they see them for sale.
Her son Gordon said: "She's very annoyed that someone was in the house, more annoyed that somebody took jewellery.
"But she's a hearty soul, she's 78 but she's clued up."
Mr McCartney said the response from the public has been "overwhelming" and thanked those who had offered support.
He said: "I told my mum thankfully no-one has been hurt, the house isn't wrecked, it's just the loss of the stuff and that someone has been in your house."
He added: "I just hope they are proud of themselves for what they've done."
Police are investigating and Detective Sergeant McColgan said: "Anyone who noticed any unusual activity in the area or anyone who has any information is asked to contact dete ctives at Limavady on 101."