THE family of a grandmother who was tied up in her own home by masked raiders have spoken of how she feared for her life during the terrifying ordeal.
The woman, aged 65, was forced to endure almost an hour of what her family described as a “living hell” at the hands of robbers, who forced their way into her bungalow in Central Gardens, South Shields.
The alarm was raised after the grandmother, who had her hands tied behind her back and a pillowcase put over her head, managed to escape once the raiders had fled.
Her family, who are not being identified, say she has lived with the trauma every waking moment since the robbery, which happened about 9am on Thursday.
The grandmother, who suffers from asthma, had answered the door thinking it was her partner, but was pounced upon by two masked men, who forced her back into the passageway and into the front bedroom of the house.
Her hands were tied behind her back with cable ties, and a pillowcase was put over her head.
Her partner, who owns a haulage company in South Shields, said: “She was terrified. She was screaming and crying and they just kept shouting at her.
“She said, all she kept saying was ‘please don’t hurt me’. She had visions of them cutting off her fingers for her rings.
“One of the robbers sat on her to try and shut her up.
“They just ransacked the bedroom, then went into another room and ransacked that.
“My partner has asthma. What happened could have sparked an attack. They could have killed her.
“What if any of our grandkids had been in the house?”
The raiders found a safe in the house but couldn’t break into it.
Instead, they dragged it through the house, in the hope they could put it into their victim’s car, which they had backed up to the door.
They eventually abandoned their plans, escaping with the contents of the woman’s handbag and her purse, containing cash and a collection of shop loyalty cards.
Her partner added: “She has been left traumatised by the whole thing.
“She struggles to sleep at night, won’t stay in the house on her own, won’t go out on her own and refuses to answer the door.
“She won’t even drive her car because they were in it.
“They have really left her traumatised and for what? A couple of quid and a few store loyalty cards.
“All our money is in the bank.
“If they wanted to get to me, they know where I am. These people are scum and need to be caught before someone ends up dead because of them.”
The woman managed to escape the property after removing the pillowcase and making her way to a neighbour’s house, where she was able to raise the alarm.
Police say one of the robbers is thought to be in his 40s, the other in his early 20s.
Both spoke with local accents.
However, the family believe a third person may have been involved as a driver.
Police say inquiries into the robbery are still ongoing,
Anyone with information or saw anyone suspicious in the area before the robbery is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference number 447051213 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.