Northern Ireland

East Belfast couple threatened with machete in burglary

BURGLARS who threatened an east Belfast couple with a machete and knife have been branded "callous and cowardly thugs".

The two masked men made off with a phone after the robbery in Picardy Avenue at around 10am on Saturday.

Police said the men entered the house via the front door and demanded money from the occupants, described as "an older couple".

One searched upstairs before both fled.

The intruders were described as being in their 20s and wore work trousers and sweatshirts with the hoods up. Both spoke with local accents.

DUP assembly member Robin Newton said the robbery was “a scandalous act carried out by callous and cowardly thugs who care nothing for their victims”.

He added: "This is not an isolated incident in the district. It is fortunate this couple were not seriously injured.

"However, if these thugs are not caught it is likely they will seek out other opportunities to commit violent crimes.

"Anyone who is prepared to carry a knife and make threats is dangerous."

Police appealed for anyone who witnessed what happened or captured dashcam or mobile phone footage to contact them on 101.

Meanwhile, detectives have appealed for information about an aggravated burglary in the Sandhurst Drive area of south Belfast on Saturday evening.

Detective Sergeant Rachel Miskelly said: “At around 5.40pm, two masked assailants entered the property, one was reported to have been armed with a firearm. They demanded money from the occupants before being forced out of the property and running off. It is not believed at this stage that anything was taken."

And police are also seeking witnesses to an aggravated burglary at a house in the Cliftonville Road area of Belfast on Saturday night.

The occupant woke at around 11.10pm to find "an unknown male in his property armed with a spade".

"The male ran off from the property when challenged. It is believed that a mobile phone, bank card and a small amount of money was taken."

Information can also be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.