Sick thieves leave elderly widow without a penny

HEARTLESS thieves who left an elderly Monkstown woman penniless after they broke into her home while she was at church have been branded “sick”.

Pensioner Sadie Lyons, who will be 90 in May, was distraught after returning home from her weekly visit to the Sunday evening service at Belfast City Mission in Rathcoole to find that burglars had stolen all her money, jewellery and even cash she’d collected for good causes.

It is understood the thieves forced their way into Mrs Lyons’ bungalow at Ballyalton Park by removing a panel from the back door.

The burglary happened sometime between 5.45pm and 8.40pm on Sunday, February 13, but details of the appalling incident were only made public late last week.

Speaking to the Times, the 89-year-old client of Good Morning Newtownabbey - a telephone care service for elderly a vulnerable members of the community - said she has been left frightened and upset by the ordeal.

“It’s very frightening. They were probably watching us going off to the Mission on the bus and knew that I’d be out of the house.

“I was shocked - just numb. I couldn’t even cry or anything,” she explained.

Mrs Lyons has lived in Monkstown for nearly four decades and has been a resident of the pensioners’ bungalows for the past six years.

It is believed the thieves made off with hundreds of pounds, including more than £50 that Mrs Lyons collected for charities and other good causes. “The only reason all that money was in the house is because I hadn’t been well. I’d had a bad cold so I hadn’t been out for a few days and hadn’t got to the bank. I was feeling better and was planning to go to the bank on the Monday, but all the money’s gone now,” said Mrs Lyons.

“It isn’t just the fact that they were in my house; they went through all my drawers, all my personal things in my bedroom, through my wardrobe and took out handbags and stole my jewellery. They even took the money I had saved for the Hospice, the Belfast City Mission box and another wee mission box that I’ve had since I was a wee girl - it meant so much to me. They took every penny out of my house.”

Far worse for Mrs Lyons was that the burglars stole her five-stone diamond engagement ring, her mother’s gold heart-shaped locket, her late husband’s watch and several other items of great sentimental value which were irreplacable.

“I would love to get them back, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s ever going to happen,” she added.

Anne Judson, Co-ordinator of Good Morning Newtownabbey, condemned those responsible for the burglary.

“They are all really elderly and really vulnerable people who live in those wee bungalows. It’s ridiculous to think that someone would go in and steal from an 89-year-old woman - they’re sick. We do what we can through the Good Morning service, but people need to realise that there are vulnerable people out there who need help and support. The local community needs to come together and look out for their elderly neighbours.”

Anyone in the area who is offered items of jewellery for sale in suspicious circumstances is urged to contact the police immediately.