Belfast Telegraph

Boy aged 12 questioned over stolen cars raced in west Belfast

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

A 12-year-old boy has been questioned by police after so-called joyriders held an illegal street race on New Year's Eve.

Footage posted on YouTube showed hundreds gathered to watch stolen cars tearing up and down the Falls Road in west Belfast.

Police say the boy is being dealt with by way of youth conferencing, which brings together the child, parents, police and victims affected by the perpetrator's actions.

In a separate incident, a 14-year-old boy was arrested along with a 46-year-old man following the recovery of three stolen cars in the Lower Falls area on Monday night.

A silver Honda Civic was reported stolen from the Tullycarnet area of east Belfast just after 11pm on Monday.

It had been driven erratically before colliding into a lamp-post in the Falls Road area before being abandoned.

A red Peugeot 306 stolen from the Ballyhackamore area of east Belfast and a red Mitsubishi Lancer stolen from the Falls Road were also recovered. The teenager and a man arrested in connection with the theft of the Mitsubishi Lancer have been released on bail.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey (right) said: "I think it's a sad case when you see young people being arrested for this.

"Some of this crime is happening really late at night and I would urge parents to do all they can to look after their children to ensure they are not outside causing danger to the public and as well to themselves – because the parents have a responsibility."

The latest incident follows a series of car-related crimes in the west of the city.

Last week, youths launched an attack on firefighters and stole life-saving equipment from a fire engine in Albert Street as the crew tried to extinguish a burning stolen car.

The equipment has since been recovered.

At the time Sinn Fein accused the PSNI of "walking away from their responsibility" in the area and said the community felt "abandoned."

But yesterday Mr Maskey said the arrests were a "welcome step in the right direction".

Since the start of the new year, the PSNI has made 15 arrests for car crimes and has targeted west Belfast in a number of operations.

Chief Inspector Emma Bond said: "We are committed to giving the people of the area the policing service they expect, and while we will do our bit to address the issues blighting this local community, we also need your help.

"We need local residents to report anti-social behaviour and criminal activity to us.

"By working together, we can make a difference," she added.

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"When the PSNI make arrests they need to come forward to the media with that information because they still need to instill confidence into the Lower Falls community, where more members of the community can feel confident in lifting the phone to them. I think today with regards to the PSNI making a statement saying a number of people have been arrested is a welcome step in the right direction."

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey

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