A Rathfern family say they are “shocked and disgusted” after returning from their mother’s funeral to find that her house had been burgled during the service.
The incident, at Knockane Way, took place on Tuesday June 9, four days after the house’s owner Henrietta Balmer passed away from throat cancer.
After laying 78-year-old Henrietta to rest, her family returned to her home to find the front door had been forced open and several of her personal belongings had been stolen.
Her distraught daughter Janine told The Times: “Burying your mother is hard enough without having to deal with this too.
“Before we went to the funeral we made sure to lock up her house and when we came back from the funeral the front door had been forced open.
“The house had been ransacked.
“A lot of mum’s jewellery and small items with sentimental value had been taken including two solid gold watches, a lot of rings, bracelets and necklaces.
“There were drawers pulled out of units and her personal things had been thrown everywhere.
“The family is heartbroken and shocked.
“We hadn’t even gone through her things so for someone else to come along and do this is disgusting.”
Janine told of her horror at finding the well-kept house where her mother had lived without incident for 30 years in such an appalling state.
“Everything was thrown everywhere, all my mother’s personal things were thrown around,” she revealed.
“I was so angry when I saw it, and my relatives who were with me were shocked.
“I didn’t think anyone could be so callous and evil to do something like that when a family was away burying their mother.
“They must have seen the sympathy cards so they would have known that someone had passed away.”
After the incident, Janine’s nephew stayed in the house to ensure that it wasn’t targeted again.
However, she fears that other families could fall pray to this type of incident.
“I am worried that someone saw the death notice in the paper and knew that we would be away at the burial in Roselawn so they thought the house would be an easy target at that time.
“I don’t know if this is a new method of burglary but I would urge people to be on their guard.
“The people who have done this have no morals, it’s disgusting.
“We have tidied up the house but the family is in shock and we just hope they can catch whoever did this,” she concluded.
Police are appealing for information following the incident.
Reacting to the story, UKIP Representative Ken Boyle stated: “This horrible act must be condemned by all right thinking people.
“At a time when a family has been attending the funeral of a loved one, they have been hit with another devastating blow; discovering that personal belongings have been stolen from their faimly home whilst they attended the funeral.
“This sort of behaviour shows no regard for the family or the good people of this area.
“Our thoughts are with the family at this tough time and I would encourage people in this area to help the police with their enquiries into finding those responsible.”
A police spokesperson stated that the burglary took place between 1.45pm and 5pm on June 9, and that a quantity of jewellery was stolen.
Detective Inspector David Skelly said: “I would appeal to anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area or who has any information about this incident to contact Police at Newtownabbey on the non-emergency number 101.
“Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”