A vulnerable pensioner was hit over the head with his coal shovel before having his life savings stolen by a gang of men, police said.
The 77-year-old, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, had gone out in the dark to fetch some coal when the three robbers jumped on him in the "abhorrent attack".
The man, who lives alone, was then taken into his home where one of the men pinned him down while the other two searched through his belongings.
Durham Police said they then made off with his life savings, which was a "substantial amount of cash".
The pensioner was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital after the incident at 8.30pm on Saturday night, where he was treated for his injuries and later released.
Detective Sergeant Peter Lonsdale said: "This is an abhorrent attack on a pensioner who had merely popped outside to fetch some coal to stoke up his fire.
"It must have been extremely terrifying for the victim who was put through a horrendous ordeal.
"He is obviously very shaken by the incident but thankfully does not appear to have suffered any serious injuries.
"The suspects escaped with this gentleman's life savings, which was a substantial amount of cash.
"Although investigations are at an early stage, this would appear to have been a targeted raid.
"I would urge anybody who has any information to please contact us and help bring those responsible for this despicable crime to justice."