Hijackings are an unacceptable blight

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The recent spate of hijackings and car thefts in the Derry area give great cause for concern.

The people behind these activities seem intent on doing as much damage as they can - to other people and to other people’s property.

While we cannot say that recent incidents are connected, they do have some things in common - they cause serious personal and financial harm to members of our community and they damage the image of the city.

It is bad enough when anti-social individuals are prepared to steal vehicles to race recklessly around the city and outlying areas, smashing into cars on route, but the most recent hijacking involved considerable violence against a man who just wanted to go about his lawful business. Tom Agnew, who is 63-years-old, said he was forced out of his car and beaten by two men at De Burgh Terrace at 10am on Sunday. He had just got into his car when he realised that someone was at the window. He was then hit with such ferocity that the bone just below his eye orbit was fractured and displaced. His car was involved in a crash at Groarty Road a short time later and was burned out. Yesterday, Tom underwent surgery. This was the second hijacking in Derry in less than a week, and there have also been numerous thefts of cars in recent months. In the past, car thieves have also caused death on the roads. They behave as if they care little for their own lives, and even less for the lives of others. In all of these cases, there must be justice for victims, which means helping police to build the evidence they need to secure prosecutions. There is an argument that to reduce such anti-social behaviour, it is essential to ensure that more ‘peace’ funding is targeted at giving more people a stake in communities - but that is a debate for another day.

Today is about showing solidarity with the victims. This behaviour is simply not acceptable.