Police warning over storing cash at home after 91-year-old woman has savings for her funeral stolen
'She just wanted to go home, that is to Heaven, those were her words'
The family of a 91-year-old woman who had her life savings stolen during a burglary said she had been saving the money for her funeral.
Thieves broke into and ransacked the Lisburn home of pensioner Lilly O'Hara last week.
They entered through the back door of the terraced home on the Low Road and tore the home apart before making off with thousands of pounds which had been hidden in the property.
It was Mrs O'Hara's life savings.
Her son John told UTV when he asked what she was doing with so much money in the house, she replied: "It was to bury me."
Mrs O'Hara has lived in the home for most of her life - six decades.
She was not home at the time of the burglary and John said he was thankful for that.
He added: "The manner in which the house was left, tells you the mentality of the persons or perpetrators who came into the house.
"I dread to think what would have happened if she was in at the time."
John said the theft brought him to tears.
"It's terrible, absolutely sad," he said. "She just wanted to go home, that is to Heaven, those were her words.
"That was the hardest bit for me to take. My mum - who I love - speaking and saying to God, 'I want to go home'."
The O'Hara family said they will try and not let the incident ruin their Christmas celebrations.
"The best Christmas I would get, and I speak for the family, is that these perpetrators are caught," said John.
Police have advised people not to have large amounts of cash hidden in their homes and to ensure elderly relatives and friends make arrangements to store money safely. Lisburn area commander, Chief Inspector John Wilson, said: "Keeping any amount of money hidden in your house is a big risk.
"This occupant has now lost a considerable amount of savings.
"Check with elderly relatives and friends, ask them if they are storing cash, and help them make arrangements for it to be stored in a bank, building society, credit union or any mechanism that ensures the money is safe from burglars.
"Don't make life easy for the criminal, because it just makes life hard for you."
In March, the Belfast Telegraph reported that there had been almost 5,000 attacks on people aged 65 and over in the preceding 12 months. The crimes included violence, sex assaults, robberies and burglaries; the latter making up 1,154 of the 4,766 incidents.
The revelations prompted calls for tougher prison sentences for those found to have preyed on the elderly.