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Masked thugs ransack the home of terrified couple in their 80s

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Police are appealing for information after five masked men forced their way into the elderly couple's home on Grand Parade on Wednesday evening

Police are appealing for information after five masked men forced their way into the elderly couple's home on Grand Parade on Wednesday evening

PA

Police are appealing for information after five masked men forced their way into the elderly couple's home on Grand Parade on Wednesday evening

The daughter of two pensioners, who were left shaken after their east Belfast home was broken in to by a gang of masked men, says her family has been left "completely devastated".

Police are appealing for information after five masked men forced their way into the elderly couple's home on Grand Parade on Wednesday evening.

The men entered the property at around 7pm and told the two occupants, who are both aged 88, to remain in the living room while they searched the house before leaving.

While it is not believed anything was taken during the incident, the couple's daughter Margaret Bailie says they have been left "visibly distressed".

Margaret told the Belfast Telegraph she was alerted after receiving an "unsettling" phone call from her parents' carers.

The couple, who have lived in the area for over 50 years, were unable to contact family members about the incident as the intruders had removed the phone, which was later found outside.

Margaret said: "My mother cried to me on the carer's phone when she heard my voice and then asked my father to say what happened. He was more concerned about how terribly shaken the incident had left her.

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"As a family we are completely devastated that such an horrendous event has happened.

"Last night it was clear that our parents were still experiencing shock and visibly distressed.

"Our mother has been unwell for some time now and a care package ensures that together with family our mother and father are able to live independently in their own home," Margaret added.

"Our father is visibly upset and keeps wondering what more he could have done to protect our mother from the intruders.

"The last few months have been traumatic for them because of the restrictions of Covid-19 for people of their age," she said.

"To now feel unsafe in their own home which provided them with protection is unthinkable."

Margaret says her family are grateful to the PSNI for their quick responses to the incident and for taking such good care of her parents on the scene.

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She had appealed to anyone who has any information to please come forward and help police with their enquiries.

Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area can contact police on 101, quoting reference number 1494 of 13/01/21.

Recent PSNI figures show there were 35 robberies and 684 thefts involving victims aged over 65 last year alongside 1,168 criminal damage incidents.

Separately, police are appealing for information after reports of two attempted burglaries in the Donegall Pass area of south Belfast, also on Wednesday night.

Just before 6.45pm, a man wearing a hooded top and dark gloves, was spotted acting suspiciously outside a house.

The man approached and tried the door handle of the property, before making off when disturbed. A second report of an attempted burglary at a neighbouring home was received at around 8.10pm.

South Belfast SDLP councillor Gary McKeown said there have been a spate of burglaries and attempted burglaries across the area in recent weeks.

"This is an invasive crime which can really leave people shaken, but it is particularly concerning in the current pandemic with people trying to stay safe in their own homes.

"I urge anyone who saw anything suspicious in the vicinity of these two incidents to contact police," he said.


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