Belfast Telegraph

Woman's horrific hijacking ordeal in Rathcoole estate as car is stolen and then torched

By Chris Kilpatrick

A woman was dragged from her car by two men who then took off in the vehicle before setting it alight.

The victim, aged in her early 40s, was targeted just before 10pm on Sunday.

The attackers approached her as she parked her car, a Mitsubishi Colt, at Innis Walk in the Rathcoole estate, Newtownabbey.

One of them opened the driver's door and dragged the woman out of the vehicle.

The car was found burnt out at Camcross Park a short time later.

The woman was not hurt but was left badly shaken. She was too distressed to speak about her ordeal yesterday.

Ulster Unionist councillor Mark Cosgrove described the carjacking as "horrendous".

"The entire community will treat this attack with utter revulsion," he said.

"My heart goes out to the victim and it is vital anybody with information brings that to the PSNI.

"The people of Newtownabbey completely reject this type of wanton criminality and violence."

A spate of similar incidents across Northern Ireland in recent months has given rise to fears carjackers are again targeting vulnerable motorists.

Last month two women escaped injury after being forced from their car by a masked gang in the Glen Road area of west Belfast.

Three men forced a woman in her 30s and a female passenger in her 20s from their vehicle. The men drove off in the car, which was found later that evening on fire in the Colin Grove area of Poleglass.

A man was assaulted and his car stolen during another incident in north Belfast.

Fears also increased among drivers in Londonderry after two motorists were viciously attacked during separate hijackings just days apart.

A retired bus driver was beaten when he confronted three teenagers in the process of stealing his car in the Carnhill area, and a second man was hauled from his van and brutally assaulted by two men in their 20s.

Police appealed for witnesses to Sunday's incident to contact them.

STORY SO FAR

The PSNI launched Operation Ruscio after a spate of hijackings which terrorised women in Belfast in 2012. There were more than 20 reported incidents during a 12-month period, with police put under pressure to respond.

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