Belfast Telegraph

Three burglaries a day involving elderly victims in Northern Ireland

Older people are living in fear of becoming victims despite slight fall in crime against over-65s, but one man remains defiant

Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland
Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Elderly people were victims of burglaries almost 1,000 times in Northern Ireland in the last year.

Police figures show around three break-ins every day on average involving people aged 65 and over.

The figures emerged after an 87-year-old man was tied up and robbed during a horrifying burglary at his Portadown home.

The pensioner was left shaken and tearful after a gang of three masked men broke into his home around 8.30pm on Sunday and made off with cash.

And the ordeal could have been worse were it not for the bravery of his daughter, who has Down's syndrome, also in the house at the time.

The intruders pulled the homeowner into the hallway, tied his hands with a clothes line and broke his mobile phone so he could not call for help.

They pushed their way into his daughter's bedroom and took her phone, but she chased them and demanded it back. It took two of the men to fight her off and they were forced to give the phone back, but took the Sim card out so she could not make calls.

It is understood they were disturbed minutes later and fled the house, in the rural Derrylettiff Road area to the west of the town, taking the sum of cash.

The man told UTV he was in tears and had been left feeling nervy and emotional. He said he just wants the gang to be caught.

His son said he was relieved his father was not badly hurt.

Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley condemned those responsible, saying the three intruders tied the man up in his kitchen while he was reading a book.

"It is disgraceful that anyone would target such a vulnerable member of the community, and it is vital that those responsible are brought to justice," he said.

"I have known this gentleman and his wider family for many years. He is a well-respected member of the community.

"This attack is utterly appalling and I know that everyone in the area will be disturbed. Ultimately, the issue of burglaries is a cause for major concern."

PSNI Detective Constable Joanne Jackson appealed for information. She said: "This despicable crime has left an older man and his daughter extremely shaken and we are appealing to anyone with information to please get in touch with us. Witnesses can call 101, quoting reference 1226 25/11/18."

This latest shocking incident comes as PSNI statistics reveal elderly people have been the victims of crime over 4,300 times in the past year.

Police recorded 4,384 crimes against people aged 65 and over between September 2017 and August 2018, 12 a day on average. The figure is down from 4,536 the previous 12 months.

The figures include 954 burglary offences, up from 939 the previous year. They also include 305 incidents of violence involving injury (up from 271), and 668 incidents of violence without injury (up from 551).

A breakdown of figures also includes 54 sexual offences, 34 robberies and 1,121 incidents of criminal damage.

Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, said: "These burglaries against older people are disgraceful and I support the PSNI who will be investigating to bring the offenders to justice.

"The fear of crime is a palpable thing for many older people. While these crimes are terrible for each victim, I wish to emphasise to older people that crimes against older people are still relatively rare in our society," he said.

"If older people are frightened or worried they should never hesitate to call the PSNI."

There has been a spate of burglaries involving older people in recent weeks. Earlier this month a Lisburn pensioner was tied up in his home and threatened with hedge-cutters, while and a pensioner in Moneymore had treasured possessions stolen during a break-in.

In Bessbrook an elderly man was left shaken after two men broke into his home. In Warrenpoint a man and woman in their 70s were assaulted in their home.

Further incidents in October included a woman in her 80s being robbed in Newtownabbey, while a gang of six tied up a pensioner in his 70s and ransacked his Pomeroy home.

In January Aughnacloy woman Pat Davidson (83) was left for dead by four attackers.

Earlier this year the Pensioners' Parliament said that almost half of older people here have become more fearful of falling victim to crime in the last two years.

The PSNI has said overall crimes were on the decrease.

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