A GANG of thieves grabbed and punched a 90-year-old woman in her Oxford home.

Four men forced their way into the pensioner’s house in Brasenose Driftway, Cowley, then one of them pushed her into a chair and hit her on the arm.

During the struggle, the woman’s 65-year-old daughter kicked one of the burglars in the groin and shouted for help as another man ran upstairs to search the bedrooms.

It was one of five incidents across the city – revealed for the first time by police last night – which happened on in the space of just half-an-hour on Good Friday.

Two other elderly women, one aged 86, and one aged 79, were also targeted.

Police, who are linking the five incidents, said the violence used was extremely rare and urged people to be on their guard.

Neighbours of the pensioners expressed their shock at the attack, which happened at about 9pm.

Samantha Schutz, 24, of Brasenose Driftway, said she was “disgusted”. She added: “It’s a horrible thing to happen.”

Neighbour Kerry Light, 25, added: “Nobody likes to hear about things like this happening on their doorsteps. It’s worrying. I hope she’s okay.”

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said the criminals were “despicable”.

Before the assault, the younger woman had seen a man get out of a dark-coloured car parked outside her home just before 9pm.

When her mother was grabbed, one of the burglars said in an Irish accent: “We’ve got to check the pressure.”

One of the men was white, 6ft 3in, of large build, with dark eyes and dark short hair, which was combed straight forward. All four were wearing dark clothing with white writing on the side.

They left the house empty-handed.

Pcso Kayleigh George said: “The two women were very brave when they tried to defend themselves, but we would always urge people to call the police if possible and let them handle the situation.”

The four other incidents being investigated are: l 8.30pm: Three men called at a 79-year-old woman’s home in Stanton Road, Forest Hill, claiming to be in the area following a water leak. She let them in and two stayed downstairs, both appearing to check taps, while the third went upstairs.

One of the men was white, about 30, and spoke with a northern accent. All three wore black, zip-up jackets. Nothing was taken.

l 8.30pm: Another house in Stanton Road was burgled. Its front door was forced and the house was searched. About £100 in cash and jewellery were stolen.

l 8.35pm: A man called at an address in Collinwood Road, Risinghurst, and told the owner that he needed to turn off some valves in his kitchen, as his neighbour was having a washing machine fitted.

When the householder refused to let him in, he became abusive and said that he could be fined £400. The owner shut the door and called the police.

The man who knocked on the door was white, 5ft 6in, stocky and wore a yellow, high-visibility jerkin with a dark jacket underneath, and a grey, woollen hat. He spoke with a local accent.

l 8.45pm: Three men entered an 86-year-old woman’s home in Pickett Avenue, off The Slade.

They pushed the elderly victim into a chair and demanded to know where she kept her money. They stole several items of jewellery. They were all wearing black tracksuits and trainers.

Dc Rhian Evans said all five incidents were thought to have involved the same men, despitevariations in the descriptions.

He said: “I would like to warn people in the Oxford area to be on their guard.

“Please do not open the door to any unexpected visitors. Always check their identification and, if you’re scared or unsure, please contact police immediately.

“I appeal to anyone with any information to come forward and help with our inquiries.”

Anyone with information should call Dc Evans on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

dhearn@oxfordmail.co.uk l Comment: Page 10