A 76 year old disabled man who lives with his 86 year old sister has told how a bogus caller forced him to kneel in pain for five minutes while an accomplice searched his home before the pair made off with a sum of cash.
The man, who does not want to be identified, was targeted by a man pretending to be from the Water Service who gained entry to his Whitewell home last Wednesday.
While the thief kept the man and his sister busy in the kitchen, an accomplice followed him in and stole money. The elderly homeowner only discovered the sum of cash was missing the following day.
“The guy said he was from the Water Board and he wanted to check our pipes. He said he also had to check my outside tap and when I told him we didn’t have one he said he had to check the house anyway so I took him through to the kitchen.
“He went out the back and looked around and when he came back in he told me he had to see under the sink. I told him to go ahead but then he said he wasn’t allowed to move anything and I had to clear space because I’ve bottles under there – the usual stuff like bleach and that.”
The pensioner explained to the conman that he couldn’t get under the sink as he is waiting for a hip replacement and kneeling causes him a great deal of pain.
“He kept saying I would have to do it so I got down. He told me to hold my hand under the pipe for five minutes to see if there was a drip.”
The burglar also distracted the 86-year-old woman, who told us, “He made me come into the kitchen saying I had to keep looking out the back window.” While the brother and sister were in the kitchen the accomplice robbed the house.
After five minutes the burglar left after putting on a pair of gloves.
“The police say he did that so he didn’t leave a fingerprint,” said the man. “I just feel sick about it. I work for charity so am used to people coming to the door. I feel bad because I should have asked for ID but I just didn’t think.”
The man’s sister said she was traumatised by the incident.
“I had a bad fall in November and then for this to happen is just awful.”
She described the man as being between 19 and 25 years old with a soft southern accent.
Whitewell Sinn Féin councillor Tierna Cunningham said she had visited the family.
“My heart goes out to the victim of this incident who is a lovely man known for his support for people in need in the area. Clearly burglaries of any type are most distressing but this type of incident where the householder is confronted is most worrying.”
“We are pressing for action regularly with the PSNI to ensure that burglaries are a top priority for community policing.”
Appealing for information, Inspector Roy Watton said: “Police would remind everyone of the need to be vigilant following a report of a bogus caller incident that took place on Wednesday January 8 in the Whitewell Road area.
“Two men called to a property purporting to be from the Water Board. On Thursday January 9 the householder discovered that a sum of cash had been removed from the property.
“Anyone who may have information relating to this incident or who may know the individuals involved is asked to contact detectives at Musgrave Station on 101.”
The North Belfast News understands the PSNI are looking at a similar incident involving a man bearing the same description which took place in the Cliftonville area last summer as possibly being linked.