MASKED thugs forced their way into the home of two pensioners – grabbing the woman by the throat while another sat on her disabled brother.
The male victim, aged 81, was helpless to stop the five balaclava-clad men from ransacking their home in Haymarket after his 84-year-old sister opened the door to a man who pretended there was a gas leak.
The terrified pair were then effectively held hostage by the gang for almost 20 minutes as they ransacked the flat looking for money. At one point, the female victim was grabbed around the throat after she started screaming.
The thugs made off with between £400 and £500 – money for the siblings’ heating bill.
The cowardly attack left the sister so shaken she had to be taken to hospital and is now recovering at a care home.
Her brother said the robbery had left them fearful for their lives.
“The man said there was a gas leak in the street, so [she] answered the door, then they came in at a canter. They said ‘we want your money,’ that’s all they said.
“It was very scary. When you’re my age you can’t do anything to stop it. They were in for about 20 minutes but one of them was sitting on top of me while others went looking for money.
“They had [my sister] from the back and they had her hands around her neck. She was screaming. She has diabetes and high blood pressure.”
He said the money stolen had been set aside to pay bills – leaving couple struggling to meet heating costs in the run-up to Christmas.
“We’re talking about maybe £500. It was for the council tax and a three-month electricity bill. We’ll just have to pay it again now.”
Police and an ambulance were called to the house following the incident in McLaren Terrace at 6.45pm on Sunday, and the female victim was taken to hospital to be treated for shock.
Yesterday, officers were still making door-to-door inquiries in a bid to trace the culprits.
Neighbour Gillian James, 48, said: “I feel so sorry for them, they are really shaken up. She’s very frail. Whoever’s done it has obviously been watching them and that’s the thing that worries me.”
Helen Pope, 62, said: “They are both lovely and independent people. It’s a horrendous thing to happen.”
The man who rang the bell is described as 6ft tall, dark skinned, in his 30s with an Edinburgh accent and was wearing dark jacket and trousers. The other four men are described as 6ft tall and wearing dark clothes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.