FRIGHTENED families in Toxteth today called for action to stop gangs of criminals who are repeatedly ransacking homes.

Locals say a spate of burglaries and robberies is blighting the L8 area, with youths as young as 16 recruited to act as spies or lookouts.

Among the numerous victims was a 68-year-old former seaman confronted by two men after he answered a knock at his door on Arundel Close last Friday evening.

The Toxteth pensioner needed stitches after a bar was smashed over his head by one man while a second brandished a gun as they shouted, “Give us the ****ing money!”

The elderly man says he has been preyed upon seven times and lost up to £9,000 worth of property over the past six months.

The victim, who is too scared to be named, said: “There was a ring of the bell and when I answered two people were standing in front of me.

“One punched me in the face and the other got behind me and hit me with an iron bar over my head.

“I was with my 27-year-old son at the time and after attacking me they ran away. It was very frightening.”

Merseyside police say they are aware of the increase in burglaries and robberies and have increased patrols in the area.

Residents believe homes have been targeted for at least six months and that many incidents in the close-knit community are not reported to police.

Another victim, father-of-three Khalid Shibani, 47, discovered he had been burgled when he returned to his Granby Street home on Friday.

He had just passed his driving test in Wallasey and arrived to find his watch, camera, laptop and gold jewellery stolen from his home after thieves had broken the door.

The shopkeeper said: “It was very upsetting. I had been so happy after passing my test.

“There are more and more burglaries in the area and nothing is being done about it.”

The popular Al Rhama mosque on Hatherley Street has also been targeted by a gang of thieves, who stole computer equipment.

Officers from Merseyside police have handed out flyers to houses warning residents that a criminal gang is in operation.

Ian Black, neighbourhood inspector for Toxteth, said: “We were experiencing some ‘youth-on-youth’ robberies around Toxteth sports centre for which we introduced Operation Moonfall.

“Eight people were arrested and were charged which brought an end to some of those offences.

“Seven weeks ago, we did notice an increase in burglaries so we put a series of proactive measures in place including more patrols and house-to-house enquiries.

“Three weeks ago, we locked three people up and there are a number of people we are looking for as part of our enquiries.

“The chances of being a victim remains very small and we are robustly targeting this issue.”