Burglars steal Christmas presents from pregnant woman's flat
Callous burglars have broken into the home of a heavily pregnant woman and stolen all her family's Christmas presents from under the tree.
Tara Davis, 34, went into labour 36 hours after waking up to find her Belfast apartment ransacked.
She had bought the gifts early knowing her hands would be full with the new arrival, but instead of relaxing ahead of the birth of daughter Trinity Faith she was cleaning up after the break-in.
"I'm a big believer in community but something like this really challenges your faith in people and community," she said.
"What kind of person comes into your house and steals kids' Christmas presents?"
American-born Tara, her husband Nathan, a special needs teacher, and their eight-year-old daughter Grace were asleep in the ground floor flat off Ravenhill Avenue when the burglary happened two weeks ago.
"I woke up at 6am - being pregnant I was waking up every two hours - and the room was freezing so I looked next door and saw the door was opened and everything was gone.
"I woke up my husband and then went back to check it had really happened because I thought it was nightmare.
"I was just filled with a mixture of shock, upset and anger.
"Grace is having trouble sleeping now because she's scared they might come back."
The thieves had stomped over and broken the Christmas tree in a bid to get at the gifts. They then brazenly sat on the sofa and ripped off the wrapping paper.
"What were these people thinking, sitting in my living room unwrapping someone else's presents?" said Tara.
"In America, if someone comes into your house you shoot them. They're lucky I was sleeping because I wouldn't know what I'd have done to them if I'd found them."
Tara, originally from Louisiana, recounted her ordeal as the police published details of a major crackdown on burglaries across the North.
The officer co-ordinating the operation, Superintendent Karen Baxter, said the operation had been successful in proactively targeting burglars and other criminals.
She said: "Burglary is a key priority for the Police Service. We know how distressing it is to have your home violated. This is about sending out a clear message this Christmas that if you commit a burglary, you will be robustly pursued.
"The disappointing fact is that almost 50pc of all burglaries are committed through unlocked doors and windows, so we need people to ensure that their properties are secured all year round.
"Officers are closely examining DNA and other forensic evidence of part of active and ongoing investigations."