A seriously ill man and his wife were left traumatised after they were tied up and assaulted during a terrifying robbery at their home.
Three men – one believed to be armed with a handgun – forced their way into the house on the Upper Newtownards Road in Belfast during the attack.
The couple were tied up and assaulted while the gang ransacked the property.
The victims were threatened to comply with the robbers during the incident which happened at 10.30pm on Sunday.
The men made off with a large quantity of jewellery.
The couple were too distressed to speak publicly yesterday but a family friend said the man was already in poor health.
"As you can imagine they are very, very upset," he said.
"It is an awful thing to happen to anybody in the sanctuary of their home. The man has been in bad health recently and I understood he had to be kept in overnight in hospital due to the shock."
Both victims were taken to hospital after the robbery for injuries which police described as "not life-threatening".
Alliance MP for East Belfast Naomi Long said it was a "shocking crime carried out by callous individuals".
"People should be able to feel safe in their own home without the threat of being assaulted," she said. "My thoughts are with this couple following what must have been a very traumatic experience for them. I hope they will be able to make a swift recovery.
"The people responsible obviously have no regards for the well-being of other people."
Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers said it had the hallmarks of a well-planned attack.
"This will have been a dreadful experience for this family," he said.
"The people behind this have quite clearly been involved in this type of crime before. It's not a random incident."
DUP MLA Robin Newton said the community was shocked by the robbery.
"Incidents of this nature can so easily result in very serious outcomes and awful consequences," he said.
"The victims are defenceless when the gangsters strike. Not only can they suffer physical violence, but in the after-effects of the incident long-term mental health problems can result.
"The police need help from the public to put those who carry out these types of violent robberies behind bars."
In recent months there has been a spate of robberies on the homes of elderly people in Co Down. Violence was used or threatened in all with fears raised an organised criminal gang was actively targeting vulnerable residents. Police have appealed for information regarding Sunday night's incident.