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Angry Shankill residents catch thieves red-handed and prevent two attempted burglaries in 36 hours

Shankill residents fight back

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ARRESTED: A suspected thief in the Woodvale

ARRESTED: A suspected thief in the Woodvale

ARRESTED: A suspected thief in the Woodvale

Housebreakers beware - that's the stern message coming from fed-up residents of Belfast's Shankill Road who prevented two attempted burglaries in the space of 36 hours.

The first break-in was foiled early last week when locals grabbed a man who had allegedly forced his way into a pensioner couple's home in the Glencairn estate.

Hearing them shout for help, several have-a-go-heroes rushed to the front door, chased the suspect, caught him outside and pinned him to the ground until the PSNI arrived a short time later.

Just a few days later at 8am locals apprehended a male allegedly trying to force his way into houses in the Woodvale area. Again, he was detained until police arrived and made an arrest.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "An 18-year-old man was arrested following a report of a burglary in the Forthriver area of Belfast. It's believed the male was detained by a member of the public until police arrived. He was questioned and released on bail, pending further inquiries."

Confirming police were also called to a report of an attempted burglary in the Woodvale area days later, she added: "It was reported that a male had been detained by members of the public after attempting to gain entry to a number of properties. A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted burglaries and possession of class C drugs. He was bailed pending further inquires."

DUP councillor Brian Kingston urged people on the Shankill to be vigilant.

He said: "I've also heard reports of recent break-ins in Ballysillan, which is worrying. I'd urge people to be vigilant and to make sure the doors and windows of their homes are locked.

"It's unfortunate advice to give out, but important if people want to stay safe. I also commend the locals who stopped the burglary in Glencairn. They did a great job."

Witnesses to the apprehension of the suspected Glencairn burglar described how he terrified his pensioner victims.

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ARRESTED: A suspected thief in Glencairn

ARRESTED: A suspected thief in Glencairn

ARRESTED: A suspected thief in Glencairn

"He beat the old fella living in the house, who is well into his 70s, and he was ordering his wife to hand over money and valuables," one said.

"Thank God the neighbours heard them shout for help. Who knows what could have happened if they hadn't arrived. The burglar tried to run away, but he was caught by local people who held him down until the police arrived. He did try to get away again but calmed down when he got a slap."

A similar situation took place in the Woodvale two days later.

"We caught a foreign national trying to force people's doors. He pretended he couldn't speak English and was looking for help," said another source.

"He was held until the police came."

Official PSNI statistics show that 4,577 burglaries occurred in Northern Ireland last year, a 26% drop on the 6,255 figure recorded in 2019. The fall was largely due to the coronavirus lockdown, which meant people were at home for much longer periods.

But while burglary rates are down, conviction rates for the crime remain static. Only one in 10 are cleared, meaning housebreakers have a 90% chance of escaping prosecution.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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