An armed gang of four men entered a house in Otteri and robbed it after locking the family into a bedroom. They had earlier scouted out the residence in the guise of Ayyappa devotees.

The daring robbery took place at a house in a thickly-populated residential area on Venkatesa Bhaktan Street. Around 5 p.m., on Tuesday, three men arrived at the ground-floor residence of Shanti (41), asking for donations for their pilgrimage. The trio left after she asked them to come back later.

“Around 8 p.m., the three men along with another man, all dressed in black, barged into the house. They held Shanti’s son Manikandan (15) at knifepoint and took away the jewellery that Shanti and her daughter Bhavani (12) were wearing. They locked the mother and children in a bedroom which did not have a window,” said an investigating officer.

The four men then spent the next hour in the house and ransacked it completely. They fled with 12 sovereigns of gold, two mobile phones, a DVD player, seven silk saris and an emergency lamp.

The mother and children shouted for help for over two hours but their voices were not heard. “Later, Shanti began banging an iron bedstead in the room, and the noise alerted the house owner Karunakaran, who lived above them. He came and unlocked the door,” the officer added.

Otteri police have launched an investigation.