A pensioner has been left terrified after callous thieves robbed and physically assaulted her during a daylight attack in Lurgan.
Widow Mrs Christine Johnston told the ‘MAIL she feels lucky she wasn’t seriously hurt during the brazen afternoon burglary at her home in Mourneview.
Still shaking with fear, Mrs Johnston said a well dressed and well spoken man called at her door last Thursday claiming to be from the Water Service and asking to check her supply as a gas company had accidentally drilled into nearby pipes.
“It maddens me. He was so convincing and I invited him in to check,” said Mrs Johnston. “He was well dressed and well groomed and around 26 years old. I took him into the kitchen to look under the sink.”
She said he asked her to remove some things from under the shelf so he could have a look and asked her to turn the tap off and on. “He seemed to know what he was talking about.
“His phone rang and he just seemed to listen. I heard the dog bark and I went down the hall and saw one man on the fourth step of the stairs and the other on the bottom step as if they were about to go upstairs,” she said, trembling.
“I shouted at them, ‘What are you doing’ ‘How did you get in here?’ and they just ran past me into the living room. They were just standing there and I shouted at them that I was going to phone the police,” said Mrs Johnston who is barely four feet tall.
She explained that the man who had initially arrived at the door came into the living room from the kitchen and also started to shout at the two men who had invaded her home. At this stage, Mrs Johnston had no idea they were all in league with each other.
The two boys ran out of the house while the third man stayed. Mrs Johnston ran out after the two boys to see where they went to and she heard the dog barking.
I came back inside and saw the first man holding my purse. I don’t know how but he ended up with the cash and I ended up with the purse,” said Mrs Johnston who unusually had a substantial sum in order to buy much needed oil.
“He pushed me back and I fell back against the sink unit,” said the pensioner.
Mrs Johnston said she had lived in that house since she was 13 years old and had never had any trouble until now.
“You used to be able to leave the children’s bikes out and your door open, but not any more.
“I still haven’t got over what happened. I feel so stupid. You hear about these things but he was so plausible,” she said.
“It has given me an awful scare,” said the mother of four.
She has been full of praise for her family and neighbours who have been very supportive since it happened.
The PSNI urged householders to check the identity of callers before admitting them to their homes.
They are also appealing for witnesses who may have been in the Mourne Road area of Mourneview at approx 3.40pm last Thursday.
A police spokesman said: “Please remember to use the services of Quick Check before admitting anyone into your home.
“Lurgan Police are appealing for information and can be contacted on 0845 600 8000.”
The Quick Check number is 0800 013 22 90