TWO separate-but-similar raids have been launched on pensioners’ homes in as many days.
The latest of them was on Monday night, when police and the ambulance service were called to a rural area near Banbridge shortly before 9pm, where a man in his 80s had been attacked.
Two men, one of whom had a knife, had entered the home of George Burns, a long term resident of the area.
They then tied him up and fled with a sum of cash.
“I came down to the door and I just met this fella who pushed me right up against the bed,” the pensioner said.
“When I came back down again there was a boy standing there with a knife.
“What could I do? They pushed me down into the bed and tied my arm and I told them ‘you’re going to break my arm’ but they never passed any remarks and that’s all I said.”
He also said he would be anxious about returning to the house.
“I was frightened, I needn’t tell you a lie. I’ll never forget it,” he told the BBC.
“I would go back in the daytime, but I don’t think I would ever go to sleep in it at night, for I’d be expecting that again.
“I’ll mind that as long as I’ll live.”
The attack has drawn widespread condemnation in the area – and closely mirrors another incident that took place only the previous morning.
During the earlier attack, a 70-year-old man in east Belfast was the target of a burglary in which the assailant gave him a black eye and tied him up before ransacking his home and stealing his car.
A man has been charged in connection with this incident.
There is no indication it is linked to Monday’s attack, which happened in the Aughnacloy Road area to the east of Banbridge.
Speaking about the latest attack, Elizabeth Ingram, UUP councillor for the rural Knockiveagh area of Banbridge District Council, said: “I just want to say this was a deplorable attack on an innocent gentleman; a person who is highly respected within our district and living quietly during his retirement.
“To have been the victim of a violent attack such as this is just beyond belief.”
Mr Burns was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital for treatment after the attack, but later discharged.
Yesterday, SDLP and DUP councillors also lined up to condemn the incident, while councillor Ingram said more police patrols in the area could help to deter crime.
However, John Hanna, a UUP councillor who chairs the area’s policing and community safety partnership, said: “People in a rural area are vulnerable to attacks of this nature.
“In an urban area, there’s more chance of people being spotted. If you’re living in an isolated area, there’s less risk to the perpetrators of these crimes.”
He said it was all-but impossible for the police to monitor everywhere at once, and even “a policeman on every corner” may not solve the problem.
The two men responsible for the raid were described as being in their 40s and well-built.
Mr Burns is reported to be 85-years-old.
The PSNI said in a statement: “Anyone with information about the incident or who saw anyone or any vehicles acting suspiciously on either the Aughnacloy Road, Lower Castlevennon Road or Castlevennon Road is asked to contact CID in Lurgan on 0845 600 8000.”
Alternatively, anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 1111.