Belfast Telegraph

Female driver left shaken following armed carjacking

There are fears that Belfast could be facing another spate of car hijackings after a woman had her vehicle stolen at knifepoint.

Over 20 hijackings and attempted hijackings were reported across the city in the first two months of this year, causing fear amongst drivers, particularly women.

The ‘carjackers’ mainly targeted female drivers — including an Assembly member — and led police to launch an operation to tackle violent car crime.

Last night the PSNI said a handful of similar hijackings had taken place in the last few weeks, with one each in June and July, and a further three in September.

The latest victim had her vehicle stolen at knifepoint in the north of the city.

It happened as she sat in her car in the Corporation Street area on Wednesday evening.

A man armed with a knife approached her Peugeot 207 before ordering her out of the vehicle.

He then made off in the car which was found abandoned shortly before 9pm in the Upper Meadow Street area of the city.

Although not injured, the woman was left badly shaken.

Over 400 hijacking offences were committed in Northern Ireland over the last three years.

North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said there was “obvious concern” given the nature of similar attacks earlier in the year.

“It is probably an isolated incident, though. The woman in question suffered a tremendous shock when this happened,” said the SDLP man.

“I think the police dealt pretty well with the spate of hijackings and will now be on their guard to prevent any copycat incidents.”

Earlier this year, Alliance MLA Anna Lo became a high-profile victim of an attempted armed car hijacking.

Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the latest hijacking in Corporation Street, or the car being dumped in Upper Meadow Street, to come forward.

Background

There were a total of 23 car hijackings or attempted hijackings across Belfast at the start of this year. Some 20 arrests were made from the second week of January until the end of February at the height of the problem. Police had responded to the hijackings by launching Operation Ruscio to bring those responsible to justice.

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