Police hunt gang after attempted tiger kidnap
Detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch are hunting for a gang behind an attempted tiger kidnapping.
A west Belfast garage owner, named locally as Brendan McKee, was taken hostage while his wife Geraldine was ordered to withdraw cash from a Post Office within the complex on the Springfield Road yesterday morning.
Community leaders and the PSNI were alerted just before 11am yesterday.
It is understood the man was able to escape before any money was handed over.
Last night a spokesman for the PSNI said enquiries into the incident were at an early stage.
SDLP councillor in the area, Tim Attwood, who was at the scene, urged the community to come forward with information.
“People seem to think that these tiger kidnappings are victimless crimes, but they are not.
“The reality is that the families have been left devastated afterwards and some people are so traumatised that they are unable to return to work.’’
“I would urge anyone who has any information to contact the police,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the Post Office said: “Post Office Ltd confirms there was an incident at Blackstaff Post Office branch on Friday, December 10.
“Our priority is to provide staff with full support while they seek to recover from what has clearly been a very distressing and traumatic experience.
“We would encourage anyone with information to contact the PSNI.
“The branch will remain closed until enquires are complete, with the nearest alternative branches located at St James’ Park, Woodvale, Shankill Road and Lower Broadway.”
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, also in west Belfast yesterday, a woman who works at a cheque cashing business in Andersonstown, received a telephone call claiming that her partner had been taken hostage.
The woman was told to withdraw cash and take it to a specific location.
When police were informed it was quickly established that the man was safe and well and had not been approached by anyone suspicious.
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said it was clear that whoever made the call had been watching the premises.
She also said the incident is being treated as “making demands with menaces” and not a tiger kidnapping.