A Worthing grandmother subjected to a terrifying ordeal by two men in her own home has opened up about her experience.
On Monday (December 16), police were called to the home of 63-year-old Linda Veck in Salvington Road, to reports of two men having barged through her front door and carried out a violent robbery and assault.
The mother-of-two, who lives alone, has shared the reality of the harrowing evening in the hope that vulnerable people in a similar position could learn to be more vigilant.
Linda said she was home alone at around 6pm on Monday, when she heard a gentle, 'friendly' tapping on the front door and two people on the other side, one in a high-vis jacket. As soon as she pulled the door handle down, she said, the two hooded men burst into her home, faces covered by scarves.
"One of them rammed me against the wall, squeezed my chest and put their hand over my face," she said.
"They were saying 'give me your money', 'where's the money?', 'where's the safe?'. I was screaming and said 'there's cash in my purse', but one of them said 'if you don't stop screaming we're gonna hurt you bad, miss'. He kept calling me 'miss', for some reason.
"I was so, so scared. I didn't think it was real at first, I couldn't believe it was happening. I was in complete shock."
Linda said one of the men went upstairs and ransacked her bedroom, smashing a mirrored bedroom door and leaving glass strewn across her bedroom.
He came back downstairs holding a large jewellery box, she said, and dragged her upstairs to force her to help him open it. Eventually the pair took the cash from her purse - which she estimated to be around £180 - and fled.
Sussex Police has released a full description of both attackers here: Worthing woman robbed and assaulted in her own home by two hooded men
The entire ordeal lasted around 15 minutes but felt like a lot longer, according to Linda. She said she did not know why they had targeted her, but could only think they had assumed she had money in the house.
The attack has left her crying every day, bruised and shaking, she said, and fearful in the house in which she has lived for 40 years.
But she felt it was important to get the message out to other vulnerable people who live alone. She said: "A lot of my friends have said it's made them think. There must be so many vulnerable people in Worthing in the same position.
"I'd advise people to just be careful. Ask for ID to be put through the door if you can't tell who they are - don't open the door if you don't know who they are. Once you've opened the door it's too late.
"I don't want people to be fearful in their own homes, but when it's getting dark at half three or four, you need to be careful."
She encouraged vulnerable homeowners to install cameras above their doors, which she has now done, and to replace frosted glass doors with solid wood and a peephole.
To her attackers, who are being searched for by Sussex Police, she urged them to think about if this has happened to their own mothers. "How would you feel if this happened to your parents?" she said. "If they were bashed around and thrown into a wall?"
But while Linda recovers from the trauma of her attack, there was a glimmer of positivity through a random act of kindness. She thanked the Tesco superstore in Durrington, who brought round a hamper filled with food, clothes and other Christmas treats after hearing about the incident.
She said the gesture came completely out of the blue and had put a smile back on her face. "It was so thoughtful and nice of them," she said.
Sussex Police said anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have any further information is asked to report online or call 101 quoting serial 1153 of 16/12.