Belfast Telegraph

PSNI: We will hunt carjackers down

By Deborah McAleese

A special police task force has been set up to target the hijackers who are terrorising motorists across Belfast.

After 12 attacks in just over two weeks PSNI Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum (right) vowed: "We are going to hunt them down. They will be caught."

Police patrols have been stepped up across the city in a bid to deter the hijackers and reassure members of the public who are becoming increasingly nervous at the audacity of the attackers who are unafraid to strike in broad daylight.

Given the high level of public concern, the Policing Board is to question the PSNI at a private meeting tomorrow about the police response to the crime wave.

A Policing Board spokeswoman said: "People are rightly completely outraged by the spate of car hijackings in and around Belfast.

"The seemingly random nature of the attacks means there is a fear in the wider community.

"The Board has asked the PSNI to report to a meeting on the police response and actions being taken in relation to these crimes."

From January 3 there have been nine hijackings and three attempted hijackings in and around the city centre, just a few miles apart. In ten of those instances the victims were women.

During one of the most recent attacks a female passenger was rescued on Monday night by members of the public who saw a man attempting to drive away in the car with her still in it.

Police believe this recent spate is mainly the work of copycats attempting to replicate hijackings carried out by well-known criminals. Chief Superintendent McCrum, who is district commander for Belfast, said while the crimes are still small in number, the PSNI is taking the matter very seriously.

"Over the coming days there will be much greater visibility of police officers right across the city. That is to seek to try and reassure people who are out working or socialising in Belfast that they will be safe and they will be protected," he said.

Mr McCrum said police are currently following "some very clear lines of inquiry" and that he is hopeful arrests will be made over the next few days.

"The community can be reassured we are taking this very seriously. To those that are involved, my message to them is 'you will be caught and you will be brought before the courts'.

"They are not going to get away with it because we are going to hunt them down. There will be arrests," said Mr McCrum.

He added that Belfast is a safe city but these attacks are "a very traumatic crime and one we are determined to wipe out".

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