PSNI under pressure after pensioner robberies

Police were under pressure today to catch gangs of armed men robbing pensioners in the North.

Police were under pressure today to catch gangs of armed men robbing pensioners in the North.

Demands for arrests followed four separate attacks within six hours, all in Co Antrim.

One man forced to open his safe was later bundled into his car, driven off and then abandoned.

Another had his Christmas savings taken and two women, the eldest aged 91, lost jewellery and cash.

Detectives are investigating a possible link between two of the robberies, the latest in a series across the North which has shocked politicians on all sides as well as organisations representing the elderly.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde is expected to face questions at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board which meets in Belfast tomorrow.

East Antrim Democratic Unionist MP the Rev William McCrea claimed: “There is no quick-fix solution.

“The police are reacting, rather than being pro-active. The numbers are just not there and the courts are not being tough enough. We need fixed mandatory sentences against those involved rather than give these criminals a slap on the wrist.”

Two masked men, one carrying a gun, used a sledgehammer to break into the home of a 68-year-old man on the Belfast Road, Crumlin, last night. He struggled with one of the intruders, but was forced to open his safe and cash was stolen.

He was then bundled into the back of his car, driven off and abandoned two miles away where his attackers escaped in another vehicle.

Earlier, four men broke into a 74-year-old woman’s house in Tansy Road, Ballinderry, ransacked it and seized £1,500 (€2,200) worth of jewellery.

The victim suffered bruising to her wrists and was left extremely shocked, a police spokeswoman said.

She added that the men who accosted the pensioner may have had southern Irish accents.

A short time later, a gang of four forced their way into a 91-year-old woman’s home in the Glenavy Road area of Crumlin.

The men demanded cash from the victim, taking a sum of money and jewellery before fleeing.

Detectives are investigating a possible link between the two robberies.

A third attack happened in Glengormley, where four youths stole money an 81-year-old man had been saving for Christmas.

The thieves searched through the pensioner’s Antrim Road property before escaping, leaving the homeowner badly shaken but unhurt.

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