by EMMA BERTENSHAW [email protected]
An elderly couple were robbed at gun and knife-point in their home in Fonte de Louzeiros near Silves in the early evening of February 17.
The couple, who do not wish to be named, are 66 and 82 years old and live on a secluded property between Silves and Messines.
After her usual evening walk, the wife had left the electric gates open, waiting for one of their two dogs to return, when four masked men stormed into the house and attacked the couple.
The husband had been watching the television and was taken by surprise when one of the men grabbed his hair and put a 12-inch knife to his throat saying “give me the money or we will rape your wife”. He then pressed a silver gun to his forehead.
The terrified couple had their mouths and hands taped while the men ransacked their home, smashing everything in sight.
The couple had also been sprayed in the face with pepper spray to stun them.
Stolen items included all their jewellery and watches as well as cash.
The robbers then took money from two bank accounts after getting the pin numbers and using the bank machine at Armação de Pêra.
They also removed a flat screen TV from the wall but left it behind, possibly because it was too large to carry easily.
“You could tell that they were on something and while they were here they finished an entire bottle of whisky,” the husband told the Algarve Resident.
The ordeal lasted around two hours, after which the criminals even found time to spray the couple’s car with red paint and break the key off in the ignition.
When they finally left, the husband managed to bite through the tape on his hands to free himself and his wife. He then called the police, who arrived after 15 minutes.
The police immediately called for an ambulance for the couple, who had received cuts and bruises.
The couple spoke highly of the police, saying how thorough they were in their investigation. Detectives were called in and forensics specialists combed the house for fingerprints until the early hours of the morning.
The husband reckoned that about €6,000 worth of valuables had been taken in total but that his wife had said they were just thankful to have survived.
The husband said that they had never experienced anything like it in the 22 years they had been living in the Algarve.
“Although we love the area and the Portuguese are very friendly, I think we will seriously consider moving back to the UK,” he said.
This incident follows other reported cases in Messines, Salir and Barão de S. Miguel where the properties have typically been isolated or remote.
David Thomas of ISECA-Independent Security Agency said this was a serious and traumatic crime and his sympathy went to the victims concerned.
“Clearly the victims were taken by surprise and there was little they could do in the circumstances. Judging from the modus operandi, this appears to be an isolated incident, certainly in this area.”
The incident is being investigated by the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) and police patrols have been stepped up in the area.
“If anyone has any information that may help the police investigate this crime and bring the culprits to justice, they should report this to the nearest police station,” said David Thomas.
He encouraged residents, especially those who live in isolated areas, to always report any suspicious activity to the police and also encouraged readers to view www.safecommunitiesalgarve.com, which provides comprehensive crime prevention advice including for those living in remote areas.
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