Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Brave Gertie won't let the burglars win

One of the most enduring reactions to a burglary is the feeling of insecurity, that the place where one should feel safest, their home, has been violated
One of the most enduring reactions to a burglary is the feeling of insecurity, that the place where one should feel safest, their home, has been violated

Editor's Viewpoint

One of the most enduring reactions to a burglary is the feeling of insecurity, that the place where one should feel safest, their home, has been violated.

But 91-year-old Gertie Primrose from near Fivemiletown in Co Tyrone is made of stern stuff. She has been living on her own for 48 years and last Friday was burgled for the second time. However, she has vowed that the cowardly thieves will not make her leave her home.

One can only admire her courage and stoicism after what was a frightening experience last week.

She had been working outside and had just come back into the house when she spotted a man running out, having ransacked her bedroom and stolen cash.

In the previous burglary, 19 years ago, two men held down the then 72-year-old and stole money.

These sort of crimes, especially targeting elderly people often living alone, are among the most repellent. It is evident the victims are carefully chosen. They are unlikely to be able to defend themselves and there is a feeling that elderly people are more likely to keep cash in their homes.

The rural location of many thefts means that the crime may not even be noticed until the victim raises the alarm. The closure or restricted opening hours of many police stations mean fewer officers on the ground. The ever-present threat from dissident republicans means that officers have to treat calls for help with a certain degree of caution, again slowing response time.

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With the best will in the world, it is difficult for police to solve such burglaries unless the perpetrators leave some incriminating evidence.

It is clear that the criminals feel emboldened by the lack of success by police in bringing burglars before the courts and securing a conviction.

All of this makes the decision of Gertie to remain in her home all the more remarkable. She comes from a generation that is made of tough stuff, and while she was left badly shaken by the theft, she has recovered and defiantly proclaimed that no one was going to force her out of her home of 70 years, nor would she be a prisoner in her own home.

Hopefully the local community will rally round the courageous pensioner, and anyone with the smallest morsel of information that could lead to the arrest of the thief will pass it on to the PSNI.

He deserves to be brought to justice before he can target some other vulnerable person.

Belfast Telegraph

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