An elderly woman was wrestled to the ground after interrupting a group of men robbing her home while her family were attending a church event in Dundalk this week as hundreds of people queued nearby to pay their respects to murdered garda Tony Golden.
Local priest Fr Michael Cusack, who was chief celebrant for the funeral of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, killed in Co Louth two years ago, said the woman had been looking after her grandchildren in a house behind her own home on Wednesday evening while her husband and daughter were at the annual novena.
Fr Cusack said the woman, in her early 70s, heard noises as she walked down the lane to the front of her house at about 5.45pm.
“Suddenly she’s charged at by a man from her front door and wrestles her to the ground in an effort to steal her hand bag,” he said.
“She fought back but then sees another man coming out, and at that point let go of the bag in fear she was going to be beaten up. Her knees were cut and ankle hurt from being dragged across the pavement.”
Fr Cusack said the woman’s daughter saw the men jump the fence and flee to a car, where another man sat waiting. She immediately ran to help her mother to her feet.
“They’re totally traumatised. Her husband, who is a very quiet man, is very traumatised. They feel such a sense of being violated,” he said.
The priest said it was only after the men had gone they realised the house, where the couple had reared their now adult children, had been ransacked.
“She said to her daughter she didn’t want to live there anymore. That’s how violated she feels after living a lifetime there.”
“This seems to be the normal run of the mill thing, that people can rifle through houses ad ad nauseam, come in and assault people.
“When it happens people’s peace of mind is gone, your home is your sacred space, it’s precious to you. When that sense of comfort and security is gone it’s hard to rediscover.”
Fr Cusack has called for more policing resources in the Border area and an “orchestrated effort” to catch the people committing crimes.
Rural crime was brought into the spotlight with the recent jailing of seven men for an aggravated burglary at the home of Mark and
, in November 2013.
It followed the death of John O'Donoghue (62), who suffered a heart attack after discovering intruders at his home in Doon, Co Limerick, in September.
Almost 140 Garda stations were closed nationwide between 2012 and 2013.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said when he raised the issue in the Dáil recently that CSO figures showed burglaries were increasing and there was an average of 80 burglaries reported a day across the State.
“In the 12 months from June 2014 to June 2015. There were 28,830 burglaries in the country,’’ he said. Burglaries are thought by gardaí to be under-reported.
Dundalk councillor Jim Loughran (SF) said people worried about the rising crime and robberies.
“When I tried to ring two Garda stations today after I saw a car that fitted the description of a recent robbery, I got no answer,” he said.