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Butterknowle couple tied up as masked robbers ransack farmhouse
AN elderly couple were tied up while a gang armed with baseball bats ransacked their isolated farm house.
The couple, both in their 60s, were left 'extremely shocked' by the 20-minute ordeal and were taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital as a precaution.
The robbery took place at their home close to the village of Butterknowle in Teesdale, County Durham.
The man answered a knock on the door at about 8.50pm on Tuesday and was confronted by five intruders.
After tying the couple up, the gang searched the property and stole money and jewellery with a total value of between £1,000 and £2,000 before fleeing the scene in one vehicle.
Detective Sergeant Darren Phillips said all five robbers wore dark coloured balaclavas and dark clothing.
He said there was no suggestion the couple had been specifically targeted or that the robbery had been meticulously planned.
“With a gang like this, you don't really need a lot of planning to turn up at a house and go from room to room.”
Det Sgt Phillips said the gang had scattered the couple's belongings around the house as they hunted for valuables.
Although the couple had not been beaten, the female victim had suffered a small cut to the hand and were released after their hospital check-up.
“The couple were distraught at the time, but they are strong characters and have a good supportive family around them,” added Det Sgt Phillips.
Police are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious vehicles in the Butterknowle area between about 8pm and 9pm on Tuesday.
“At this stage, we believe it was one vehicle that approached the property,” added Det Sgt Phillips. However, it is not known what sort of vehicle was used in the robbery.
The network of rural roads around Butterknowle, which lies between Barnard Castle and Bishop Auckland, meant the gang could have used only one of three routes, he added.
He urged vigilance among people living in isolated communities, especially with the nights drawing in.
“We are coming into the darker nights. If anyone sees suspicious vehicles in village locations, contact the police and we will go out and check they are legitimate,” he added.
Det Sgt Phillips said at this stage, the robbery was not being linked to that which happened in Redworth, near Heighington, less than a month ago, when a 50-year-old man was assaulted and his wife threatened by a masked gang which made off with thousands of pounds.
Anyone with information on the Butterknowle robbery should call 101 and ask for Crook CID.
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