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The past two weeks have seen a dozen reported incidents of carjackings in Belfast, and police now say that they believe “criminal gangs” are to blame. Since January 6th, there has been an increasing number of reported carjackings in and around Belfast and the majority of these have seen women being targeted by the as-yet-unnamed culprits.
One of the first victims, Andrea McVeigh, noted how unusual it was to see this type of crime committed in the city, especially as her carjacking took place on “one of the busiest streets in the city centre.” But within one week of this first incident, a further three carjackings had occurred and that statistic has now risen even further, leading to Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum insisting:
“They’re not going to get away with it, because we are going to hunt them down, let me be very clear about that … We have brought additional resources into the city, we’re bringing the highest level of investigative rigour to bear in all of this.”
At first, the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) were hesitant to confirm that these incidents were related to each other, with Superintendent Alan Todd initially assuring the city’s inhabitants that, “your chances of being a victim of this type of crime are very low in Northern Ireland.” Yet, a call for more succinct actions appears to have been necessitated in light of two more carjackings on Monday night (January 16th).
As of yet, there has been no suggested motive from either the victims or the police as to why single women have been the most common targets, but it has been contended that a mix of criminal gangs and “copy-cat” artists have sought to capitalize on the city’s seeming unability to tackle the situation effectively.
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie reported on her blog that “the majority of these recent incidents have been ‘opportunist’ in nature”; however, it has yet to be determined what is motivating this behavior in the first place or what the correlations and distinctions might be between these gangs and “copy-cats”. The first victim, McVeigh, described the men as being in his:
“late teens, one with blond hair, wearing a navy or grey tracksuit whilst the second was about five ft ten inches tall with dark hair, wearing dark clothes and a baseball cap.”
Meanwhile, one of the more recent victims – unnamed by the Belfast Telegraph – encountered just one man and described him as being:
“in his early 20s and was wearing a dark-coloured hooded top with a light-coloured scarf over his face. He was also wearing jeans and white trainers.”
Despite the relative unconnectedness of these attacks with regards to their geographical locations, anyone with information is advised to telephone Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111.