Belfast woman left traumatised after hijack gang force her from car
A woman has been left badly shaken following a carjacking on the outskirts of west Belfast.
The woman, in her 30s, was forced out of her car by a gang of four men shortly before 11pm on Saturday in Glasvey Rise in Twinbrook.
Three men climbed into the back of the Honda Accord while a fourth opened the driver's door and forced her out of the car before driving off in it.
The woman was not injured but left traumatised by her ordeal.
Over the past seven years there have been several police operations aimed at tackling the problem of carjacking in the west of the city.
One notorious gang, the so-called Divis Hoods, are known for hijacking and stealing vehicles across the greater Belfast area. Cars are then abandoned, smashed up or burned out in the west of the city.
Last January two teenagers armed with a machete attempted to hijack a taxi in Dunmurry, near where Saturday's incident occurred, after the taxi driver picked them up as passengers in the Divis Street area of west Belfast.
Last March a woman was also forced out of her car on the Pinehill Road area of Dunmurry. Two men approached her and she was told to get out of the vehicle after her driver's window was smashed.
Local SDLP councillor Brian Heading said he did not believe such carjackings were typical of the Twinbrook area but also urged drivers to take care.
"There are elements in any city that are involved in petty crime and in that sense Belfast is no different," he said.
"They can go into a quiet area where there is maybe not as much of a police presence and take advantage of that. This incident could have been one of those opportunistic, unfortunate incidents or it may have been pre-planned."
Councillor Heading said the perpetrators could "easily" have travelled from outside Twinbrook as had happened on previous occasions.
"The overwhelming majority of people living there are not involved in activities like this," he said. Expressing his sympathy and concern for the female victim, Mr Heading also urged drivers to keep their car doors locked.
"I would appeal for people to take precautions," he said.
Mr Heading, a member of the West Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said that a long-term police strategy for carjacking crimes was required but that it did come down to resources.
"Police have been suffering from the cuts as have other government departments," he said. "More police on the ground means more crimes detected."
Detectives are appealing for anyone who witnessed the carjacking incident at Glasvey Rise, who saw the blue Honda Accord (TUI 6149) on Saturday evening, or who knows of its whereabouts to contact them on the non-emergency number 101. To provide information anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.