Belfast Telegraph

Police increase presence in Northern Ireland town following series of arson offences

By Victoria Leonard

A 34-year-old man has been charged after a car was driven into a house in Larne and set alight.

Police said the man is due in court today, where he faces charges of arson endangering life with intent, threats to kill, intimidation and wasting police time.

The man had been arrested on Sunday night shortly after a stolen Peugeot 206 car was driven into a house on the Killyglen Road and set on fire.

It’s understood a number of people were inside the property at the time.

Two other men, aged 23 and 32, also arrested as part of the investigation, have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

The PSNI has stepped up its presence in the Co Antrim town.

The move follows the torchings of several vehicles across the port town.

A police spokeswoman said that there had been an increased police presence since last week “and that will continue.”

The Killyglen Road attack followed an incident in which a car was driven into a hairdresser’s salon on the town’s Main Street and set alight last Tuesday evening.

Prior to that, five vehicles were extensively damaged after being set on fire over the Easter weekend. There was a failed attempt to set a sixth alight.

East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said the town’s reputation was “being dragged through the mud by mindless criminals who have no thought for the impact of their actions on the local community.”

He said: “Not content with destroying people’s livelihoods, these criminals are putting lives at risk for their own selfish ends.

“I am pleased that the PSNI have committed to stepping up their presence and would urge anyone with information to come forward.

“Our community stands against this behaviour and will not allow a small minority to damage the reputation of our town.”

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan said he was “satisfied with the policing response so far”, but feared that the incidents could cause people in the town to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“People are living in fear, they don’t know what is going on and what is going to happen,” he stated.

“If the criminals do things like this in broad daylight, what are they going to do at other times?

“Children in the houses could be affected, as could older people, and people who have local businesses are being left without an income.

“I am worried for the innocent people, incidents like this could cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“These criminals have been a law onto themselves for a number of years and I must say the recent police presence has certainly given some hope because we have seen a number of people arrested, questioned and charged.

“That’s good but there is still a lot to be done,” the Sinn Fein man added.

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