Woman's hostage ordeal after knife thug hijacks car in south Belfast
Police have been urged to step up patrols to tackle violent carjackings after a female motorist was taken hostage by a hijacker in Belfast.
During what has been described as a "terrifying ordeal", the woman was driving in the Pretoria Street area of south Belfast at around 2.10pm yesterday when she was threatened at knifepoint by the man.
The hijacker, who was in his 20s, forced his way into the woman's green Toyota Yaris and drove off with his frightened victim still inside.
It is believed he drove towards Broomhill Park Central before letting the woman out of the car.
Police believe the car was driven by the hijacker towards the Malone Road area.
The incident has sparked fears of an upsurge in the violent crime, which had been largely stamped out in 2012 following a special police crackdown.
The PSNI set up Operation Rusico to deal with a spate of carjackings across the city and managed to reduce the number of incidents by targeting a west Belfast crime gang calling itself the 'Divis Hoods Liberation Army'.
However, this most recent attack – on top of a number of similar incidents this year – has led for calls from a Policing Board member for a new clampdown to nip a potential new carjacking crimewave in the bud.
"Criminals aren't stupid. As soon as they know the police stop focusing on something they think the way is open for them. Perhaps officers could step up patrols in known carjacking hotspot areas," the DUP's Jonathan Craig said.
The PSNI has asked for anyone with information about the carjacking to contact detectives at Musgrave Street on the non-emergency number 101.
There have been a series of similar hijackings recently. Earlier this year a woman was dragged from her car in Rathcoole by two men who then took off in the vehicle and set it alight.
In Derry two motorists were attacked during separate hijackings. A retired bus driver was beaten when he confronted three teenagers stealing his car in the Carnhill area, and a second man was hauled from his van and brutally assaulted by two men.