GARDAI are investigating whether a Dublin gang are behind a callous burglary which left a pensioner imprisoned in his own home for nine hours.
Patsy O'Toole, who is in his seventies, is being supported by friends and loved ones after suffering the ordeal this week.
Three men forced their way into the Co Wicklow home at around 10.30pm on Tuesday night while the pensioner was watching television.
Officers believed one of the men forced open a window before climbing inside and opening a separate window for his two accomplices.
Mr O'Toole heard a noise coming from his kitchen and came face to face with the intruders.
Sources told the Herald that an altercation broke out as the pensioner tried to fend the men off.
When Mr O'Toole refused to hand over any cash, he was bundled into an adjacent room which was locked by one of the men as the other two attempted to burgle the property.
Gardai found the pensioner "extremely distressed" at around 7.30am on Wednesday morning -- nine hours after he had been locked up.
Despite the shocking nature of the man's ordeal, the raiders only managed to escape with a small amount of cash and a cheque book.
Gardai are treating the incident "extremely seriously" and are appealing for witnesses. A Dublin gang may have been behind the burglary.
"This man is extremely traumatised. Not only did he confront these three thugs, but he was effectively a prisoner in his own home for nine hours. He is very upset and shaken. These lads showed no mercy and shoved him into a room before locking it."
The incident occurred in at a property in Mellow's Avenue, a quiet residential part of Arklow, Co Wicklow.
Local councillor Nicky Kelly said the entire community was "numb with shock".
"We can't believe something like this would happen to such a decent man who just kept to himself. People are extremely concerned about the impact of garda cutbacks on the community. Gardai are doing all they can but how can they properly police the streets with such severe cuts?"
And Fianna Fail councillor Tommy Annesley said: "There has been a spate of incidents in Arklow in recent weeks. Perhaps none have been as severe as this but people really are living in fear."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arklow Garda Station on 0402-26320.