From the pages of the Down Recorder, August 22, 2001

From the pages of the Down Recorder, August 22, 2001

18 August 2021

DOWN — A gang of audacious car thieves is stealing high-performance vehicles in carefully planned raids in Down District.

Four top-of-the-range cars have been taken in recent weeks by thieves who break into houses in the dead of night while families are asleep.

It is believed the gang responsible for the thefts are from outside Down District and are stealing the cars to order and transporting them into the Irish Republic.

The most recent theft took place on Thursday night when two cars were taken from outside a house at Lord Moira Park in Ballynahinch.

As the owners slept the thieves broke into the house and took the keys to a Volkswagen GTi and a BMW coupe. Jewellery, credit cards and a number of electrical items were also stolen.

Police believe the theft of the cars is related to an incident the previous week in Kilmore when a silver BMW 316 and silver Volvo S40 were taken from a house at The Old Mill.

The owner of the house was woken at 4am last Sunday morning when he heard his car being driven out of his gravel driveway.

When the police were called it emerged the thieves had broken into the house, lifted the car keys and made off with both cars without taking anything else. 

They took the BMW car keys out of his partner’s handbag which was downstairs without touching her wallet or credit cards.

So far none of the stolen cars have been found.

According to police the gang seem to prefer targeting upmarket residential areas, especially areas where there is a direct route to Belfast. Car owners have been urged to remain vigilant and not to leave car keys or handbags lying in easy view within the house.

KILLYLEAGH — Delamont Country Park is no longer a front runner as the base for Ireland’s first owls centre.

The man behind the ambitious World of Owls plan has this week confirmed he is in talks with the Forestry Service about locating the project at Gosford Forest Park.

Mr MIke Gibb said he has become frustrated with the council’s attitude towards the scheme and the lack of progress that has been made 

since the project was outlined in September last year.

He claimed while Down Council took seven months to reach a decision on his plan, the Forestry Service confirmed it was interested in facilitating the World of Owls project within 24 hours of being briefed about its detail.

Mr Gibb said while Delamont may not be 

in pole position to be 

the new base for his 

ambitious project, he is prepared to meet 

the local authority’s chief executive to 

discuss his plan. But he has ruled out meeting any other council 


SAINTFIELD — Local farmers are called for an urgent inquiry after agriculture officials in the Republic cancelled a planned delivery of sheep last week.

Intensive discussions between Department of Agriculture chiefs and their counterparts across the border had brokered a deal for a consignment of around 350 lambs to be taken to a slaughter house from Saintfield Mart.

Rowallane councillor William Dick, who is also a local farmer, said no reason has been given for the cancellation particularly after such in-depth talks.

Mr Dick said farmers had been hoping the 

deal to move the lambs across the border, which had been reached despite 

a lot of red tape, would 

have paved the way for 

other exports.

DUNDRUM — A derelict building in Dundrum, which is being used by local teenagers as a drinking den, has this week been described as a “death trap”.

Children, some as young as eight years old, have been spotted drinking and even sleeping over at a former garage in Main Street and members of Dundrum Village Committee say unless urgent action is taken, someone could die.

Over the past number of months the premises have been targeted by arsonists and the committee fears it could only be a matter of time before a teenager becomes trapped in a burning building.

BALLYNAHINCH — The UDA has this week been blamed for a serious assault on three teenagers in Ballynahinch in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It is believed five members of the loyalist group attacked the boys with baseball bats as they were queuing for food at the Spice Kitchen Takeaway on High Street.

The men, who were masked and wearing baseball caps, set upon the youths aged between 14 

and 15, hospitalising one boy and leaving his two friends severely bruised and suffering from shock. One man has since been arrested.

Although police are unable to confirm who was behind the attack they are treating it as sectarian.

A local councillor has called upon secretary of state, John Reid, to declare the UDA ceasefire over.

CROSSGAR — The Crossgar Community Association has warned the doors of the village’s RUC base must remain open.

It was reacting to news that the Saintfield Road base is one of 25 stations included in a hit-list drawn up by the Police Authority in a bid to make major savings.

The Police Authority has confirmed there will be full public consultation before any final decision is made and the Community Association has made it clear it plans to spell out clearly why the base must not close and be allowed to continuing playing a key role in the life of the village.

The community association chairman, Mr Noel Ellison, said the group has previously stated its support for the retention of what he described as an effective police presence in the area.

DOWNPATRICK — Lengthy delays are likely before a new multi million pound hospital can be built in Downpatrick.

Confirmation that staff and patients of the Downe Hospital could have to wait for at least five years for the new facility came at a meeting of Down Council’s Health Committee on Tuesday evening.

The new hospital was proposed as a result of the Hayes’ Review, which recommended the retention of the Downe’s coronary care and accident and emergency services but the gradual withdrawal of inpatient maternity services.

Although the report called for the construction of the new facility in Downpatrick as an immediate priority, Down Lisburn Trust chief executive, Mr John Compton, confirmed that it is unlikely to be ready before 2006.

Mr Compton said a more definitive way forward for the Downe Hospital was not likely to be agreed until last next summer, and said the overall project would be subject to finance being made available by central government.

BALLYCRUTTLE — The sky is now the limit for a tiny horse which is small in stature but big in star quality.

Touch of Class, less than three feet tall and owned by Ballycruttle teenager Paul Kayes, won the award for best  miniature horse in the Royal Lancashire Show last weekend.

The winning horse, whose pet name is Prince, was also voted the supreme champion of Ireland when just one year-old. As a result of the Lancashire success he has qualified for the Horse of the Year Show which will be held at Wembley later this year.

But Touch of Class’s road to success has not been smooth, with the horse having ill health since it was young.

Only when its owner discovered the miniature animal loathed horse food, did it slowly begin to recover from kidney and liver problems which had been making him weaker and weaker.

Paul’s father, Jim, said it first became clear that Touch of Class was ill when he was unable to eat or sleep.

“We could not find anything wrong with him so we took him out along our country lanes for walks and he began to eat things that we believed were weeds along the sides of the road,” said Jim.