A home invasion in Barrackpore before dawn on Friday not only left a family traumatised but also left them "without a cent."
Market vendors Michael and his wife Sharda Ramkhalawan and their nephew Sheldon Jaglal, 20, were bound and gagged by four gunmen. The men dressed in dark tactical uniforms and ski masks ransacked the house and stole many items including a van.
The uniforms had had the word "Police," and the gunmen also threatened to kill their victims.
Jaglal was struck on his head with gun butts and was at the hospital up to Friday afternoon.
Ramkhalawan recalled the ordeal that started at 2.15 am and lasted about an hour, during which time she kept "praying and praying" in her mind.
She said she had awakened about 15 minutes earlier to prepare to go to the wholesale market in Macoya to buy goods. But she was still sleepy and lying in bed.
She initially assumed she was dreaming when she saw the bedroom door opening. Then she saw the gunmen, who also had cutlasses, standing around the bed.
They men identified themselves as police and then kept asking for money and jewellery.
The men tied up the couple using shoelaces and cords and ransacked the room.
They took money from a draw, cell phones, watches, clothes and other items. The men went to another room where Jaglal was asleep and threatened to kill them.
She recalled that they kept saying, "Don't do this girl anything. She works really hard."
"They wanted the wardrobe key, but I could not find it. One told me not to worry as he could open it, and he opened it using a device. They took about three bottles of rum, all our gold, including our wedding rings, and a quantity of cash I had borrowed to pay people for goods."
Ramkhalawan said a pastor from the Pentecostal faith keeps service at the house every other Monday.
"They took all the offerings too. We do not even have a dollar. How do we start over from this?" Ramkhalawan told Newsday on Friday.
The bandits ordered Jaglal to get tools they used to unscrew a 55-inch TV on the wall in the living room.
The bandits stole other electronic items like three play stations and boxes of tools.
The bandits placed all the stolen items on their van, a blue Ford Ranger (TBR 1047), and left.
The family later learnt that the men prised open a side door and got into the compound.
Neither the van nor any items were recovered.
Sgt Burke is leading the investigation.
She said about two years ago, thieves stole all her goats in her yard, causing her to stop rearing the animals.
A few years ago, she was robbed "on a Sunday" while selling on the roadside near the market at Number Two Junction in Barrackpore.
On the brink of tears, she added: "I do not have savings because I keep paying debts. We work hard to build this house. I am always helpful to people."