Belfast gets a chilling warning as roads crime wave continues

‘Find carjackers before tragedy strikes’

By Francesca Ryan

These are the faces of the men the PSNI are seeking to speak to in relation to a spate of carjackings in the city. At a press conference held at Woodbourne police station, a PSNI team, along with members of Families Bereaved Through Car Crime, launched a dedicated phone line for the community to offer information on those depicted in the photo-fits – and anyone else suspected to be involved in the crime wave.

Inspector Norman Haslett, who has direct responsibility for the Auto Crime Team, told those assembled that he has between 40 and 60 officers working on the investigation, titled Operation Ruscio, every day.

“We can’t do this on our own,” he cautioned.  “We require support and information from the community we serve.”

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Little, who is the senior investigating officer of Operation Ruscio, gave detailed descriptions of the men in the photo-fits and also three cars that have yet to be recovered: a grey Honda CRV (BEZ 5155), a blue Renault Megane (AEX 2359) and a blue Volkswagen Passat (XCZ 5540).

“We are doing everything within our power to bring these perpetrators to justice,” added Inspector Haslett. “We would appeal to anyone with information to contact us, that snippet they may have could be what we need to translate what we have into evidence.”

 

Chilling

Tommy Holland from Families Bereaved Through Car Crime said the group is “very concerned” with the latest spate of carjackings and issued a chilling warning.

“Be under no illusion,” he said, “there’s a tragedy here waiting to happen.”

In the same week, the West Belfast Community Safety Forum facilitated a community meeting between the local community safety forums, elected representatives and the PSNI on the issue.

There was a forthright exchange of views in relation to what’s happening on the ground and the concerns that exist around the effectiveness of the police response.

“The community is encouraged by what has been happening to date, but also recognises the frustrations of not only our community members but also those of the police who are persistently arresting people who are then subsequently bailed,” said Chrissie MacSiacais of the Forum.

“We will be working closely with the police on preventative measures to raise awareness, particularly among the more vulnerable members of our community. We are asking anyone who has knowledge around these serious issues to come forward and share that with the police. It is only by standing together as a community, assisting and supporting victims that we will achieve positive outcomes.”

If you have any information about the carjackings, or about the men picture above, the dedicated number is 0800 028 1111.

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