A FAMILY say they are too scared to return home after being robbed of thousands of pounds worth of sentimental jewellery at knifepoint.

A mother and father, aged 70 and 60 respectively, were attacked by three intruders who broke into their home in Mowden in Darlington.

The couple’s son said the intruders pushed his mother to the ground, held a knife to her throat, and ordered her not to speak as they took jewellery that had been in the family for more than half a century.

She was taken to hospital after the attack, which happened on Thursday, December 7 at about 7pm.

The couple have only been in England a matter of weeks, having moved from India in October to meet their granddaughter for the first time and to celebrate Diwali.

Durham Police confirmed they have launched an investigation into the armed robbery – but did not comment on the family's claims that a number of Asian families have been targeted in the same way.

The couple are now staying with friends while they attempt to recover from the effects of their ordeal.

“They are still scared – they do not want to back home,” said their son.

“It was absolutely horrific what happened to them – the hospital told them they just needed rest, but the mental after effects are much worse.”

He said the value of the jewellery that was stolen could be as high as £9,000.

“Most of it belonged to my mother’s mother, so it has been in the family for quite a long time," he said.

The couple’s son admitted he was unsure whether the family, who all share the same home in Mowden, would ever be able to return to normal.

“My wife is still really scared – I don’t know when we will be ready to move back in.

“I can’t understand why anybody would carry out a burglary, but to do it whilst people are in the house, it makes it even worse.”

The family claim they are not the first Asian family to be targeted in Mowden and are urging police to do more.

“They generally seem to target Asian families – there seems to be a problem across the region,” said the son.

Durham Police did not respond to this claim, but has appealed for information about the robbery.

A spokesperson said: “An elderly couple have been threatened and had sentimental jewellery stolen after robbers broke into their home.

“The robbery happened on Thursday, (December 7) at about 7pm at a property in the Mowden area of Darlington.

“The suspects stole jewellery and cash from the property and threatened the occupants before exiting on foot in an unknown direction.

“Anyone with any information can call Durham Police on 101, quoting incident number 419 of December 7.”