£1,000 reward to catch Belfast carjackers
Crimestoppers offers a reward as MLA warns: someone could be killed
A reward of £1,000 is being offered to anyone who can help catch the thugs responsible for a spate of car hijackings across Belfast, it can be revealed.
Crimestoppers is offering the cash to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and charge.
The move comes after the Belfast Telegraph contacted the independent crime-fighting charity to ask if consideration could be given to the provision of a reward.
There has been growing public fear over the recent spate of hijackings of cars across the city since the start of January. Alliance South Belfast MLA Anna Lo warned that somebody could be killed if the hijackings continue.
"Somebody could be hit by one of these stolen cars or the hijackers themselves may be killed if they lose control of the car. The public are worried about the number of car hijackings in the last two weeks, they are scared that it might happen to them," she said.
Ms Lo added: "The PSNI needs the support of the public if they are to catch those responsible for these hijackings, so I would urge anybody with any information to contact the police."
SDLP Policing Board member Conal McDevitt said the hijackings are spreading fear across the city.
"They must be ended before someone is seriously hurt or killed. Parents living and working in the city are also increasingly concerned that if these crimes continue, a car could be taken with a small child in it," he said.
Crimestoppers' regional manager for Northern Ireland Susan Brew said she would like to reassure callers that they will remain completely anonymous.
"As an independent crime-fighting charity, Crimestoppers takes every crime very seriously, with its aim to bring criminals to justice.
"Regarding the carjacking incidents that have occurred recently, I would urge anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers on our anonymous 0800 555 111 number. If your information leads to an arrest and charge, you could be entitled to a reward of up to £1,000," she said.
Ms Brew added: "In the 24 years since Crimestoppers was formed, we have never broken our promise of maintaining our callers' anonymity. All we are interested in is what you know, not who you are. You won't have to give a statement to the police, and you will not have to go to court."
How to stay safe in your car
Advice from Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie
- Keep your doors locked.
- Keep windows closed or partially closed - enough to prevent someone from reaching in and unlocking doors or grabbing items.
- Do not place items, such as handbags, phones, laptops, in full view on the passenger or back seat. Put them on the floor under your seat, in the glove box, or lock them in the boot.
- If you are forced to stop abruptly, keep your engine running and make sure you have enough room to drive away.
- You MUST stop for the police but it's quite reasonable to ask for identification through a closed window and keep the engine running until you are satisfied.
- Beware of anyone who tries to signal that there's something wrong with your car, unless you know they're right and it is dangerous to drive on.
- If another driver gets out of their vehicle or pedestrian approaches you and you have concerns about their behaviour, flash your lights and sound your horn.
- If you have an alarm, set it off.
When parking or returning to a parked car
- Park in well lit, busy areas or a car park.
- When approaching your parked vehicle, be alert to anyone hanging around and if necessary walk past your car and report anything suspicious to the police immediately.
- If your vehicle has an alarm fitted with a panic button and you think you are being approached suspiciously, activate it.
- As you approach your car have your keys ready, if the car design allows it, unlock the driver's door only and once inside lock your doors.
- When you stop your vehicle, for example to get fuel or purchase a parking ticket, never leave your keys in the ignition or engine running, and always lock your car.
- Keep an eye out for fellow motorists and report anything suspicious immediately to the police.