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Man injured in hammer carjacking; 2 'BRUTES' IN VIOLENT CAR THEFT.

Byline: MAURICE FITZMAURICE

By MAURICE FITZMAURICE A MAN was in hospital last night after being attacked with a hammer in a carjacking.

The victim, 27, was hit in the face in Belfast's 16th violent car theft in less than two months. The victim was dragged from his gold Peugeot 206 by two men in the Norglen Parade area of Turf Lodge in the west of the city.

The car was stolen and later found burned out in the Rosnareen Avenue area.

The incident happened at around 5pm yesterday and came just hours after a police chief rejected claims they are not doing enough to tackle the problem.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey told the Daily Mirror he believes the "brutes" behind the spate of carjackings are now trying to outdo each other in their brutality.

The Sinn Fein representative added: "They are sinking to new lows and driving these cars like the death drivers did years ago and I would be fearful someone is going to get killed on the roads.

"There is a real sense of fear across the city and people worried about going out now.

"There are a lot of powerful emotions about. I would call on Matt Baggott to come into West Belfast and see what is going on.

"There also needs to be a speeding up of the evidence gathering so these people are dealt with by the courts as soon as possible and off the streets."

Police chief Supt Alan McCrum yesterday defended the force's handling of the epidemic saying the "hunt goes on".

He spoke out after politicians reacted with fury to four teen-agers being freed on police bail within hours of a knife-point hijacking.

Two women were dragged from a vehicle in Andersonstown on Saturday before their car was stolen.

It was later stopped by a police stinger device at Areema Drive in Dunmurry.

But Mr McCrum said the four teenagers were caught around half a mile from where the car was stopped so they were released pending forensic evidence coming back.

However, community representatives in the Poleglass district have expressed frustration at the police decision to release those arrested.

Mr McCrum, who is heading up an anticarjacking taskforce, added: "I understand that frustration and I share that."

And he insisted the PSNI is coming down hard on car crime.

Mr McCrum said his officers have identified "the top 104 crime offenders in Belfast" of whom 12 are in jail, 34 are in custody and 33 are on bail.

He added the "police are working tirelessly to ensure the city is a safer place" and are confident of making more arrests.

He added the PSNI has arrested 14 people for hijacking and of those, four have been charged and four are in custody.

Mr McCrum would not comment on claims some of those arrested and released have gone on to commit more crimes.

CAPTION(S):

TASKFORCE Mr McCrum at Belfast meeting yesterday
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Title Annotation:News; Front Page
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 21, 2012
Words:490
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