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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 12:59 GMT
'Big rise' in NI kidnap robberies
Police Land Rover
The police said some people were afraid to report the crime
Cases of so-called tiger robberies have risen sharply in Northern Ireland in the past year, the police have said.

Inspector Philip McCullough said there were 11 cases in the past 12 months where people had been held hostage to force a handover of cash or goods.

In the latest incident on Monday, a man and his daughter were kidnapped in west Belfast, while his wife was forced to withdraw money from her workplace.

Inspector McCullough said three people had been arrested this year.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing a big rise in these all over Northern Ireland," he told the BBC's Nolan show.

"We have been working very hard with businesses and the financial institutions throughout Northern Ireland to try to increase their knowledge in how we can prevent these type of crimes.

"It is an easy way to get access to money and goods without leaving a lot of evidence at the scene of the crime."

Money was stolen from the Ulster Bank at Carlisle Circus
Money was stolen from the Ulster Bank at Carlisle Circus recently

It is understood at least four of the robberies have taken place in north Belfast.

The tactic is known as tiger kidnapping or tiger robberies, due to the way the beast follows its prey before it strikes.

Last Wednesday, a family at Fortwilliam Park was taken hostage while a female bank employee was ordered to remove money from a branch on the Andersonstown Road.

In February, about 200,000 was stolen after a bank employee was forced to get the money from a branch at Carlisle Circus. His partner and one-year-old child were held hostage.

A bar worker whose parents were held hostage on 17 March 1991 said he was still suffering from the trauma.

He told the programme he had been "set up from inside".

"I was followed from the bar I worked in. I got a tap on the shoulder. They put a shotgun into my mouth and they said my name," he said.

"They had no masks or anything. I knew them. What do you do? Do you struggle with them and waste your life?

"As soon as they mentioned they had my parents held hostage you do everything you can to help them."

After handing over money, the man was dumped into the back of a car and it was abandoned at Edenderry.

"I feel sorry for the people who have been robbed in the past. I got no help. I am still affected to this day. What hurt me the most was that people didn't believe me."

Security consultant Tim Mercer said, in some cases, people were "fingered" by those within their workplace.

The idea is to keep these people out of your home before they get your family and keep your family safe both at night and during the day
Inspector Philip McCullough

However, he said people also needed to be careful not to identify where they lived - and not open the door before they had confirmed who was outside.

"They need to carry out surveillance when they are coming from their place of work so that they are not followed home. People need to be careful of access control at night-time," he said.

"People need to have spyholes on their doors, not to open doors, even to people dressed as police officers."

Ciaran Smith, a shop workers' union spokesman, said they were trying to get extra help for victims of such crimes.

"Every minute of the working day shop workers are threatened with violence or physically attacked and this is just the next step on the ladder, where people are held hostage in their own homes," he said.

"This has been going on for years, particularly in Northern Ireland. The police are aware there must be inside information."

Inspector McCullough said people were often too afraid to tell the police about what had happened.

"The idea is to keep these people out of your home before they get your family and keep your family safe both at night and during the day," he said.




SEE ALSO
Kidnappers make mother get money
06 Nov 06 |  Northern Ireland

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