Knife thugs invade family home and terrify children

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Knife-wielding robbers raided a family home and even moved children’s beds while they lay sleeping in their desperate hunt for valuables – before snatching the family car and using it as a getaway vehicle in another robbery.

The Akbar family home on Craigentinny Grove was targeted by thieves in the early hours of Tuesday morning as their three children slept in their bedrooms, with mum Ruksana – a Muslim – upstairs completing her morning prayers.

Ruksana Akba says her family can't sleep at night after the trauma of the break-in. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ruksana Akba says her family can't sleep at night after the trauma of the break-in. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The thieves – wearing balaclavas to conceal their faces – stole a knife from the kitchen and the keys to two guest houses owned by the family, as well as snatching Ruksana’s black Audi S5 and even helped themselves to some cake.

They then used the £46,000 souped-up Audi, which boasts a detuned Lamborghini engine, to carry out a smash-and-grab on La Favorita takeaway in Brighton Place, Portobello – taking a sledgehammer to the front door and grabbing around £200 from the till.

Today Ruksana, who has been off work since the incident happened, said the family had been left “traumatised” by the nocturnal raid and afraid to sleep in their own home.

The 35-year-old said she first became aware of the three intruders when she heard movements coming from her kitchen and felt a draft blowing up the stairs just after 4am.

Thinking it was simply her children – two of whom sleep on the ground floor – getting up in the night for a glass of water, Ruksana only realised what was going on when she went downstairs to find doors open and items moved around.

Chillingly, it soon dawned on her that the robbers had even entered her daughter Alina’s bedroom and moved her bed while she was asleep in their hunt for goods – with the frightened ten-year-old later asking her mum why daddy had been in the room wearing gloves.

She said: “We are just so scared now – we are so scared at night. Even just going downstairs for a glass of water, you just have that fear. If they had come across us when they were here, they would have attacked us. If I had gone downstairs I would have come face-to-face with them.

“I was sweating from fear. I haven’t been able to do anything since the incident. None of us ate lunch or breakfast yesterday. We’re so traumatised by the whole thing.

“I can’t sleep at night and my kids are all sleeping in the same bed at the moment because they are refusing to sleep in their own rooms.

“I’ve managed to get a courtesy car, but I don’t know if my insurance is going to cover the theft. But the car was the least thing – it’s just a material thing. The main thing is we just don’t feel safe at home now. We don’t feel safe in our own house.

“What these people are doing is they are causing terror.”

CCTV footage taken from a private camera system rigged up in the Akbar family home shows the three robbers arriving in a Jaguar just moments before they entered the house through a rear window.

They are then shown backing out of the drive and speeding off up the road in the black Audi – which bears the personalised numberplate R70XXY – before carrying out their raid on La Favorita at around 4.50am.

It is believed they were later pursued by police who were unable to keep up with the vehicle as it sped away. The car was last seen heading towards Duddington Place.

Ruksana, who owns two guest houses and a beauty parlour in Leith with her husband Jalani, insisted the crime had had a “devastating” effect on the family.

“They went into my daughter’s room and moved her bed while she was asleep,” she said. “When I woke her up after they had gone, she asked me, ‘Why did daddy come into my room wearing gloves?’ It’s just devastating. My ten-year-old daughter Alina is so scared.”

And she said it was likely the robbers had known people were in the house.

She added: “I must have left my bedroom, which is on the ground floor, at about 4am and then went upstairs to offer my morning prayer, which takes about ten minutes. I could hear noises towards the end of my prayer, which must have been when they were in the kitchen. I thought it was my daughters.

“They smashed their way in and took a knife from the kitchen and then came into the hallway. I was upstairs, but my two daughters were downstairs. They opened all the doors downstairs, including to the bedrooms, and then stole my car. We had all our computers and Apple products lying out, but they didn’t take any of them, and they didn’t take any cash.

“They even ate a bit of cake – they took it out of the container and ate a piece and then broke the rest of it into little pieces and sprinkled it. They made themselves welcome in the house. They were very relaxed, and they knew they were going to get away with it. They think they are living in a game – like one of those PlayStation games.

“As soon as they took the car they proceeded to rob La Favourita, the restaurant. They were using my car as a getaway vehicle – it’s a fast car, so they could go at 100mph and the police couldn’t catch them. I was so shocked.”

Last night a spokeswoman for La Favorita confirmed their Portobello store had been broken into early on Tuesday morning. She said: “They went through the front door with a sledgehammer. This is the second time it’s happened, but the first time they did it they didn’t get anything.”

The raid on the Akbar family home comes after a spate of housebreakings across the Capital. Earlier this month the Evening News revealed the number of cases involving thieves stealing car keys from homes and fleeing in stolen vehicles has doubled in just three months – with the north and west and Pentlands police districts among the hardest hit.

Determined officers have vowed to track down a hardcore group of 40 criminals believed to be behind the crimes.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police in Edinburgh were called to an address on Craigentinny Grove at 4.40am on Tuesday, April 14 following reports of a housebreaking. Various items were stolen from within the property, alongside a black Audi S5.

“The stolen Audi was then involved in a housebreaking to a business premises on Brighton Place at around 4.50am and the three suspects were last seen in the vehicle heading towards Duddington Place.

“Anyone with information about these incidents is urged to contact Police Scotland.”

City hit by crime wave

Edinburgh has the highest rate of domestic housebreaking of anywhere in Scotland – with 3363 taking place across 2014 alone, a rise of 46 per cent on the year before.

Last week thieves ransacked a home on Inverleith Terrace, making off with a Range Rover and an Audi as well as a raft of high-value jewellery.

And in March radio DJ Grant Stott was left reeling after his parents’ house was broken into - with callous robbers even killing their pet goldfish by pouring vodka into the tank.

In a bid to combat the crime wave police have relaunched Operation RAC – a special drive designed to target housebreaking. A core group of 40 criminals is believed to be behind many of the crimes.