A MOTHER and three children were terrorised by thugs who forced their way into a family home in Dundalk - and last night hopes that CCTV footage could help find the raiders were dashed.
The three men burst into the house and threatened the terrified woman and children with hammers and demanded cash.
It was hoped that CCTV cameras at the house may have caught some images that could help catch the raiders, but it is suspected that the raiders tampered with the system.
All of the raiders had their faces covered.
The robbery happened at the Belfry Gardens estate at 8pm on Sunday when the mother answered a knock at the door.
Her husband is the manager of the popular Jade Garden restaurant on Park Street in the Co Louth town. Mr Tim Wan was at work at the time when his wife Doris answered the door.
After the three thugs forced their way inside, the raiders brought the couple's 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter as well as a 10-year-old local girl into the kitchen and held them there.
They forced the terrified woman into an upstairs bedroom and demanded she hand over any money kept in the house. The criminals took possession of a quantity of cash, believed to be less than €3,000.
A quick-thinking local man raised the alarm when he became suspicious of a white van parked outside the Wan family home. He noticed the van being driven into the cul de sac at an usually fast speed and then spotted that all the blinds had been lowered in the house.
Last night, the local man's 24-year-old son told the Herald: "My dad telephoned the gardai and telephoned Tim at his restaurant. Tim told him that the family were not expecting anyone to visit the house at that time."
The gang were in the family home for less than 10 minutes and left the house with the cash, leaving the scene in a white Citroen Berlingo van.
A relative of Tim Wan, who runs another Chinese restaurant in Dundalk, said last night that Tim and Doris were "too upset to talk about what happened".
Local man Barney Rafferty (66), who does maintenance work for the Wan family, said: "They are very hard-working decent people. They're very highly respected in the community. People are very upset."
This is the second attack on a Chinese restaurateur in less than 10 days. The Lin family were terrorised by a gang which forced their way into their home in Castleblaney in Co Monaghan on last Sunday week.
Detectives believe a gang or gangs are targeting people behind restaurants, and gardai in Dundalk are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, said: "This has started to be a trend where criminal gangs are now (watching) restaurateurs and the movement of cash to their homes or to the bank."
One of the raiders was described as being 6ft tall, wearing a high-viz jacket, a black beanie hat and black gloves. He spoke with a northern accent.
The other two were around 5ft 8ins tall. Two were said to be carrying hammers.
The detached house in the quiet cul de sac was sealed off pending a technical examination by members of the garda technical bureau.