High-risk, high-speed crime with fatal allure
A grey pall of cloud and drizzle hung above the hinterland between Belfast and Lisburn yesterday — almost reflecting the mood of local people waiting on news of loved ones in hospital due to the scourge of car crime.
The six men hailed from Twinbrook, Poleglass, Lagmore, Dunmurry and the Falls area of west Belfast.
Some locals said the six men found strewn across a field in Dundrod among the wreckage of a stolen Subaru car on Monday morning were old enough to know better. But they are all special to someone — sons, brothers, long-term partners and fathers.
On the ground, while there is plenty of sympathy for the families and friends of the casualties of the horror smash on the Leathemstown Road, the community is struggling to understand why grown men are still intent on breaking into and stealing other people's property, and ultimately losing their life.
Angela Nelson, Lisburn Sinn Fein councillor, said there is a lot of anger at what seems to be a return to the bad old days.
Things have changed — at one point, over a thousand stolen cars were recovered every year from the Twinbrook area. Through specialised policing and the sheer shock of people seeing their mates and relatives wiped out, the situation is far better than it was 10 years ago.
But residual problems remain. There is huge defiance of any sort of authority, towards both the IRA — who once ruled these areas with an iron fist and kneecapped ‘death drivers' — and the PSNI, particularly the dedicated Auto Crime Team.