Locals place suspected car thief under citizen’s arrest

April 22, 2013

A recent incident involving vehicle theft in south Armagh, in which community members detained the alleged thief until police arrived, highlights the willingness of locals to cooperate with police, the area’s MP Conor Murphy has said.

The drama unfolded shortly before 5pm on Saturday April 13th when an opportunistic thief stole a jeep from a farmyard on the Skerriff Road, close to Cullyhanna.  The owner, who was nearby, gave chase but was unable to catch up.  The thief drove off in the direction of Crossmaglen but abandoned the jeep on the Annaghmare Road, around two miles from the town, and made to escape across fields.

Members of the Crossmaglen Community Safety Group, who had been alerted to the theft, became suspicious of the abandoned vehicle and followed the man’s path across the fields.

They subsequently apprehended the accused and placed him under citizens’s arrest, holding him until police arrived on the scene.

Sinn Fein Councillor Terry Hearty praised the work of the safety group members, who, he said, were on the scene as soon as the alarm was raised.

“The Safety Group members must be commended for the way in which they handled this incident,” he said.

“They learned very quickly that this vehicle had been stolen and that following the abandonment of the vehicle, the thief had tried to escape over the fields.  Within a very short space of time there were a number of Safety Group members in the area where the thief had last been seen. They managed to locate and detain the man until the PSNI arrived.

“It came to light soon after that this man had also tried to break in to another vehicle, most likely his intention was to use it as a getaway car,” Councillor Hearty added.

Commenting on the incident, Newry Armagh MP Conor Murphy said: “This incident demonstrates the local community engaging effectively with the PSNI in order to apprehend a criminal who tried to steal two vehicles from this area.  This shows the value of community safety projects and highlights the willingness of a strong nationalist community to operate in conjunction with the police to deliver effective outcomes.”

A PSNI spokesperson confirmed a 33-year-old man was arrested and released on bail pending further enquiries.

“Around 4.45pm on Saturday, 13 April, a blue Toyota Hi-lux was taken from Skerriff Road. The vehicle was abandoned a short time later on Annaghmare Road.  At approximately 7.45pm officers received a report of a male person in fields along Annaghmare Road. Members of a local community group were talking to a male in the field when police arrived around 8.30pm.  A 33 year old man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of attempted theft, driving whilst disqualified and taking a motor vehicle without authority. He was later released on bail pending further enquiries,” the spokesperson said.