Relentless thieves target elderly, wake sleeping woman to demand car keys

Willow Glen Retirement Community residents (left) Christine Jenkins and Pam Harrison have asked David Janetzki MP for help with the increasing burglaries in the village.

Callous thieves have traumatised a Toowoomba woman, 77, after breaking into her home and confronting her in bed to demand her car keys.

The woman was asleep in her Willow Glen Retirement Community unit when four offenders broke in and started rummaging through her home.

One man entered her bedroom where she slept alone, shone a torch light in her eyes and started yelling at the frightened woman, demanding her car keys.

She began screaming, pressed the emergency intercom button and went into the loungeroom where three other males were searching her home.

The brazen thieves continued to rummage through the woman’s unit for a period time, even after hearing the nurse over the loungeroom intercom and seeing the woman’s husband come out of another bedroom.

Willow Glen Retirement Committee residents are fed up with thieves targeting their homes multiple times this year, in January, March, April and June.

Committee resident Barry Kranz, who has been a Justice of the Peace for 55 years and performed many duties for his fellow residents, said thieves caused significant damage trying to break into their units in April.

“They went through the village and either cut or burnt a hole through every screen door, front and back, on more than 70 units to see if they could unlock the doors,” Mr Kranz said.

“We had three screen doors just at our unit that were cut or burnt – but they couldn’t get in as we had key-locked the doors,” he said.

Thankfully, Willow Glen management had educated residents about the importance of key-locking their doors after thieves broke into four units and stole cars in March. This prevented mass burglaries in April.

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP commended Willow Glen management for their proactive security measures but said local thieves were relentless.

“To target elderly and vulnerable people is the most cowardly act possible,” Mr Janetzki said.

“It’s not just property that is being stolen and damaged, it is peace of mind that is being robbed from people,” he said.

“It is relentless – there has been 1,015 burglaries, 406 stolen cars and 2,357 other theft offences in Toowoomba over the past 12 months. Willow Glen have installed security cameras, increased their security and now even have a guard dog patrolling at night.”

Mr Janetzki has written to council about issues surrounding a public footpath which cuts through the middle of Willow Glen. He has also requested extra police patrols through the retirement village.

The average age of residents at Willow Glen is 85. Mr Kranz said he was concerned about the physical and emotional impact burglaries could have on residents.

“They picked on some (younger ones, 77 and 85) this time but if it had been one of the older residents, they could have dropped dead,” Mr Kranz said.

*Figures obtained from Queensland Police Service Online Crime Map date range 02.07.20 – 01.07.21