BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
'No joy' for car crime victims
Bereaved families have formed an action group
Bereaved families have formed an action group


They call it joyriding - but car crime in Northern Ireland has brought little else but misery.

Twenty five innocent people have died as a result of car theft - 43 if you include the "joyriders" themselves.

It almost defies belief that it still goes on.

I did my first interview with a former joyrider in 1982.

He came from west Belfast, and finally gave it up because he'd stolen a car from the wrong person - a senior paramilitary.
Families protest every Thursday
Families protest every Thursday

He told me at the time that he'd driven through Army and police checkpoints, simply putting his head down when he saw their guns pointed at him.

Did you care if you killed anyone? - "No."

Joyriders have been shot dead by the security forces, been the subject of punishment shootings and beatings by paramilitaries on both sides, and face prison if caught by the authorities.

And still it goes on.

'Scrap heap'

There's a car removal yard in Belfast where stolen vehicles are taken after they've been recovered.

The day I was there last week, there must have been 200 cars in various states of repair - some pristine, some half-wrecked, others write-offs.

Every single one of them had been stolen. The manager told me another 60 cars had been taken away that morning to go to the scrap heap.

Some people have now had enough, and eight families bereaved by "joyriders" have formed an action group against what it calls the "death drivers".

They have a march every week in a different area of Belfast, and next month they're taking the protest to Westminster.
Flowers mark the spot where a victim was killed
Flowers mark the spot where a victim was killed

The families seem to have touched a nerve too - someone recently tried to drive a stolen car into one of the rallies.

They want the law strengthened, with mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders.

I remember 20 years ago too, an attempt in west Belfast to stop "joyriding" - on waste ground a circuit was drawn out, and old bangers were provided for racing. But it never took off.

There are some young men in this society for whom there is no greater excitement than stealing a car, and showing off on back roads, doing handbrake turns.

But put at its simplest - this is a crime that's a plague - a crime in the guise of bravado and rebelliousness, masquerading as fun.

It's not fun. It's not joy. It brings death and misery. Full stop.


Profiles

Background stories

Analysis
See also:

11 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
06 Aug 02 | N Ireland
13 Sep 02 | N Ireland
17 Sep 02 | N Ireland
16 Sep 02 | N Ireland
16 Sep 02 | N Ireland
16 Sep 02 | N Ireland
Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes