John Donoghue, 62, is thought to have suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed from the trauma of seeing the crooks.
He had just returned to home in Country Limerick, when the thieves came "flying out of the house".
It is understood he was so alarmed by the sight he died on the spot.
Police rushed to the scene after receiving a call at around 1.30pm and found John lying lifeless at the side of his driveway.
Local parish priest Fr Tony Ryan, who was called to the house to administer the last rites, described the carpenter as “a thorough gentleman, a most intelligent and inoffensive person”.
“The thieves came flying out of the house," he said. "He got such a shock he had a massive heart attack.
“The community is upset and outraged at what happened.”A neighbour said: “He had undergone a bypass in recent years.
“He was a really nice man. The nicest you could ever meet.”
Police on Wednesday arrested two members of the Traveller community from Limerick city.
They were in custody last night being questioned about the circumstances surrounding Mr Donoghue’s death and on suspicion of committing a burglary at his home.
Locals said Mr Donoghue’s sister Christine found her brother collapsed on the ground at the house in Toomaline.
The pair had just returned from Doon village where Mr Donoghue had purchased wood materials for a project he was working on. His sister phoned neighbours who alerted the emergency services.
A local source said two members of a gang ran from the house on foot after their getaway driver sped away before they could reach the vehicle.
“They ransacked his home," he added. "They are the lowest of the low."
Two suspects were arrested at Fearns Crossroads in Co Tipperary.
Police later recovered a black Laguna near Boher, Co Limerick, which they believe was the getaway car.