Gangs targeting homes of pensioners

An elderly woman was pushed to the ground while her rural home was ransacked for the second time in two months.

The 78-year-old Donegal pensioner was targeted on Saturday night by three hooded men who fled in the direction of Pettigo, close to the border with the North.

A spate of aggravated burglaries have been carried out on older people across the county in recent weeks, including on a 96-year-old woman punched and gagged in her home near Buncrana last weekend.

Similar attacks have also happened in Raphoe, Donegal town and Convoy.

Sinn Féin’s Padraig MacLochlainn said gangs are terrorising pensioners across the north west, and appealed to householders not to keep large sums of money in their home.

“Clearly, we have different gangs of scumbags who are targeting the most vulnerable of people in their home,” the TD said.

“That’s not a term I like, but if the shoe fits. They are willing to punch a 96-year-old woman and leave her to die, only for she hit a panic alarm button.

“It’s causing terror throughout the county.”

MacLochlainn said some of the attacks have been carried out by a cross border gang.

“The gardaí and the PNSI have a joint responsibility protect us,” he added.

Gardaí in Ballyshannon have appealed for information on the latest incident, which happened shortly after 10pm in the townland Belault on the outskirts of Pettigo.

Three thieves, aged in their 20s, threw the woman to the ground and raided her home before they fled in a car with cash.

The victim made her way to the road and flagged down a passing motorist who took her to a neighbour’s house and raised the alarm.

Elsewhere campaign groups and opposition parties said a Government U-turn not to make cuts to the senior alert scheme will come as a relief to older people nationwide.

Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen said it would have been an incredibly cruel and potentially dangerous cut when rural garda stations are closing.

“It would have been completely wrong to take security supports from older people who are already feeling more vulnerable than ever in their homes,” he said.

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