Elderly Waitaki residents fear for their safety after an "abhorrent" night-time burglary of a 94-year-old Oamaru man's home.
Two men alleged to have held down the pensioner in his own bed while they pilfered his belongings during the raid have been labelled "animals".
Oamaru police yesterday made a public appeal for information following the incident, which happened at 2.45am yesterday.
Detective Sergeant Dan Keno said the offenders had entered the man's bedroom and held him down in his bed. A number of items valuable to the man were taken.
Inquiries were at an early stage and police were yesterday not in a position to reveal details about the items taken.
"Clearly for the elderly victim this is very distressing and upsetting. He is currently being supported by Victim Support and we are facilitating as much support for him as possible. However, he's doing very well considering these events.
"Targeting elderly people in our community is despicable and police will be doing their utmost to locate those responsible and hold them to account."
Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer said it was "just abhorrent" to think an elderly man was the victim of such a crime.
"The people who would do that are just animals."
Although the Waitaki District Council had recently increased security at its community housing units, elderly people in the town had expressed concerns about safety, he said.
"We are also trying to get round as many elderly people as possible to reassure them that they shouldn't have to live in fear and usually Oamaru is not like that."
Elderly Oamaru residents yesterday said they were on guard.
Barbara Doran, 75, said the situation was becoming "darn scary".
"It just leaves you unsettled. It's up to each individual to make sure they lock doors and windows, but even then there's still the fear . . . it seems to be the elderly who are targeted, because they don't think they will stick up for themselves."
One 77-year-old woman, who declined to be named, said the incident was "awful" and added there was a need for people to be more vigilant and to ensure doors and windows were kept locked.
Anyone with information should contact Oamaru police on 03 433-1400, or provide information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.