Armed gardai patrolling Grafton Street
ARMED gardai are patrolling Grafton Street every day to prevent robberies at high-end shops and jewellers.
The officers are mingling with unaware Christmas shoppers amid fears that there could be further raids on retail outlets and stores.
Thousands are expected to arrive in the city centre today for the last full day of Christmas shopping.
Over €550m will be spent over the festive period, experts believe and the plain clothes and armed officers will be monitoring every move amid heightened security.
The Herald can reveal that two armed detectives have been patrolling Grafton Street every day in a bid to respond to armed robbers targeting high-end shops and jewellers.
The armed foot patrol initiative is being led by the detective unit at Pearse Street Garda Station and it has specifically been targeting an upturn in crime in the month of December.
Jewellers in the Grafton Street and surrounding areas have been exercising extra security cautions in recent weeks.
A senior source explained: "The armed detectives on foot patrol work hand in hand with armed officers who travel in the locality in a patrol car.
"The officers on foot are there to offer a rapid response to robberies of jewellers, post offices and the many high-end shops that are in the area.
"They have been monitoring and carrying out surveillance on a number of businesses in which there has been a large amount of cash and deliveries.
"There has always been an element of armed foot patrols but in the month of December, man-hours for this kind of policing is increased dramatically simply because there is so much more cash floating about.
"There is, of course, a number of undercover non-armed units also operating at all times -- particularly during busy shopping hours."
In the past week, within the area covered by Pearse Street Gardai, officers have made arrests in the three armed robberies that have occurred there.
Two suspects were arrested after an alleged armed robbery involving a knife at Westland Row on Tuesday night while gardai also arrested a suspect for the alleged armed robbery of a shop at Aston Quay days previously.
And a suspect was also arrested and questioned about a robbery from the Arlington Hotel in Temple Bar last weekend.
Gardai are also closely monitoring suspected thieves and building up "intelligence-based profiles" on the main players.
Raids are then launched on these suspects once a significant body of evidence has been built up
KEN FOY, CRIME CORRESPONDENT