AN ELDERLY woman in Drogheda has been left shocked and distraught after a terrifying incident in which two masked men ransacked her bedroom while she was in her bed.
The raid took place in the middle of the afternoon, and if it hadn't been for the woman's personal alarm, which alerted the robbers that help was on its way, the theft and incident could have been much worse.
' This horrible incident highlights the importance of being connected to the emergency services, especially if you are elderly or live on your own,' says Dave Turner from Drogheda & District Support 4 Older People. 'So many time we have heard they can save people's lives when they have fallen, and now with this robbery, we see that it can make all the difference when people know the gardai are on their way.'
The incident took place two weeks ago, with the woman, who is almost 80, too upset to talk about it at the time.
Her neighbour has looked after her in the wake of the incident, and says it is unbelievable to think people can be so heartless and cruel.
'She is so frightened, and is finding it hard to sleep at night,' the friend told the Drogheda Independent.
'She was in her downstairs bedroom, when she heard someone upstairs, and thought it might be her son, or someone next door.'
A few minutes later, two men wearing Hallowe'en masks calmly walked into her room and started searching through her locker drawers.
' The woman was very frightened, and they almost ignored her when she asked what they thought they were doing,' says her close friend.
'Luckily the woman had her personal alarm right by her bed, and when she pressed it, a male voice on the other end said 'what's wrong'?
' The two robbers got a fright themselves when they heard the voice, and fled. If she hadn't pressed the panic button, the next drawer had all her money and jewellery, which she has since given to her son for safe-keeping.'
Gardaí arrived shortly after and they are seeking the culprits, but local senior citizen groups say this shows everyone should get a personal alarm.
' They give elderly people such peace of mind, and we hear every week of people who use them and have stopped burglaries, or for when someone has fallen or injured themselves,' says Carol Dickson from the Drogheda Senior Citizens Interest Group, West End Arcade, West Street.
' The call goes through to a helpline that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they can call ambulance, gardai or fire brigade, and never mind if it is pushed by accident.'
The alarms cost €66 per year, and you can drop into West Street or phone 1800 200 459 or 041 9846753 for details.
Dave Turner can be contacted at 1800 200 100.
Gardai are following a definite line of enquiry on the incident.