Barnstaple car attacks taken seriously

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
2:21 PM

Police call for any information on recent attempts to get into cars or for any similar incidents to be reported.

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A series of incidents of strangers trying to get into the cars of women drivers in the Barnstaple area are being taken seriously by police.

In the past week two more female drivers have reported men trying to open the passenger doors of their cars, following similar events before and after Christmas.

Since the story was published on the North Devon Gazette website on Thursday, it has been viewed more then 18,000 times and shared almost 3,000 times on Facebook.

Police have stressed there is nothing to suggest they are all linked, but are investigating similarities between two of the most recent incidents at Muddiford on Wednesday, January 15 and one in North Road near North Devon District Hospital on December 23.

The police helicopter, a dog handler and several officers were sent to the Muddiford area after a woman driving on the B3230 towards Barnstaple at around 5.30pm saw a man standing beside the road near Broomhill.

As she slowed, he tried to open her car passenger door, but it was locked and she drove off. Police would like to hear from anyone who saw anything at the time, including any suspicious vehicles.

On December 23 it is alleged a man jumped in front of a woman’s car near North Devon District Hospital, before throwing his mobile phone at it and chasing after her down the road.

Sergeant Ewan Seear, Barnstaple Neighbourhood Team Leader, said some of the reports could be ruled out as altercations between pedestrians and drivers, but urged all drivers to continue to report any incidents.

“If anyone has not previously reported any incidents of people acting strangely, then we would like to hear,” he said.

“Anybody who has seen people acting suspiciously at the side of the road, not just women but male drivers who might have had someone appear as if they were about to jump out.”

Sgt Seear said officers were currently reviewing CCTV footage and working to rule out misunderstandings or ‘road rage’ type incidents.

Other reports have included on Sunday, January 12 at St Mary’s Road in Barnstaple, at around 6.45am as a woman went to pick up a female colleague on her way to work.

A man walked towards the car, kicked its side and then tried to get in the driver’s door, before also attempting to get in the passenger door.

He is described as six feet tall, white, clean shaven with sharp features, wearing a grey hooded top. He was reported as having ‘dead eyes’ and it is thought he may have been under the influence of drink or drugs.

On January 1 it is claimed a man also jumped in front of a woman’s car in the Sticklepath area and then tried to open her passenger door.

Inspector Roger Bartlett reminded people to lock car doors, except the driver’s door for safety, if they had concerns.

“If you feel vulnerable on your own in a car or after dark, do lock your doors from the inside and report any incidents immediately by dialling 999,” he said.

Anyone with any information about the above incidents or anything similar, can contact PC Rich Bacon by dialling 101, quoting reference CN/14/27 for Muddiford and CB/14/157 for St Mary’s Road.

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