Editor's Viewpoint: Crime wave is a bad start to the New Year
It is only a week into the New Year, but violence is once again making the headlines. In north Belfast a female shop worker was threatened by an intruder, and in Carrickfergus and in the Omagh area, residents bravely foiled chilling attacks on people and property.
Lucia Felloni, who was working in a shop on Belfast's Oldpark Road, was threatened with an acid attack by an intruder who demanded money. Her boss heard the commotion and pressed the panic button.
Luckily the attacker ran off, but it was a terrifying experience for the shop assistant.
In Carrickfergus, customers in a shop foiled an attack by a man with a baseball bat demanding cash and cigarettes.
Once again, innocent people were deeply upset by such anti-social behaviour.
During the weekend, an attempted raid on an ATM at a store near Omagh was foiled by brave neighbours, who shouted at the raiders and raised the alarm.
Two of these incidents were at commercial premises, where staff were working at the time, and these events serve to alert us to the dangers facing people who are exposed to attack from would-be robbers.
A convenience store, by definition, is open early to late, but some premises are isolated, with staff working alone. At the Oldpark shop, a previous owner had come under fire, and in the latest attack the CCTV cameras did not prove a deterrent. Fortunately the panic button scared off the intruder, but the shop worker was subjected to a terrible trauma, and it will take her some time to recover.
Those who challenged the would-be robber in Carrickfergus, and others who raised the alarm in the incident near Omagh, should be commended for their public-spiritedness and bravery.
However, they were fortunate their interventions proved successful and no-one was injured. Those who take action in such cases and respond quickly to the needs of the moment, should also be mindful of the risks.
A raider who comes armed with a baseball bat or a bottle of liquid, which he claims to be acid, might not always be deterred, and he (or she) may have no scruples about using their weapons.
Sadly, the weekend events have been a reminder of the current prevalence of thuggery and criminality, as well as the vulnerability of many people doing their job, often having to work unsocial hours. It is to be hoped that, at the very least, some of these attackers will be brought to justice.