A woman has been left badly shaken after a Good Samaritan helped her when her car got stuck in mud – and then dragged her from the freed vehicle before fleeing in it.
The care worker's Kia Sportage car became stuck in soft ground at around 9am yesterday on the Finaghy Road South in Belfast.
A passer-by approached her and helped free the car.
But the man then proceeded to pull her from the vehicle and drove off in the direction of the Lisburn Road.
The care worker had been in the area to look after an elderly woman, whose daughter, Michelle McCrudden, witnessed the incident.
Mrs McCrudden said: "He was talking to her in the window, sort of saying what to do or whatever.
"I finished getting dressed, and then I saw the carer standing in the field with her head in her hands.
"I just saw the tail-end of the car driving away.
"I came running down the stairs, and the carer said, 'He's away with my car.'
"I said, 'Maybe he's just away around the block.' She said, 'No, he's pulled me out of the car'.
"We waited a couple of minutes and he didn't come back, so we phoned the police."
The car was later found abandoned on the Andersonstown Road. "While the victim was not physically injured, she was quite shaken by the incident," a PSNI spokesman said.
Car-jacking has plagued Northern Ireland in recent years. In September, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that car hijackings in Northern Ireland have increased 40-fold since 2004.
According to PSNI statistics, nearly 1,300 cars have been hijacked since 2004. Almost 240 cars were taken in 2012. Most victims of this opportunistic crime are women.
Some of the vehicles which were stolen, often in broad daylight, were later recovered burnt out and abandoned in west Belfast.
A west Belfast gang called the 'Divis Hoods' are believed to be behind many of the attacks.