Community living in terror
As more and more local garda stations are closed down, people living in rural areas have become their own crime fighters, keeping loaded shotguns at the ready, beefing-up security on their doors and windows, but mostly by banding together to implement neighbour watch schemes
. Everyone has become the eyes and ears of each other so that when a suspicious-looking vehicle appears in one townland, its details are immediately broadcast across a wide area via the text message service.
There is at least one new alert practically every day, along with messages about lost dogs and found dogs and dogs wandering and cattle loose on the road. Sometimes it is something much more serious, like a child on a bike being followed by the occupants of a van. But mostly it's about crimes that have just been committed or, the people suspect, crimes about to be committed.
If you were of a nervous disposition, it could make you paranoid. But still, you feel a little safer knowing that everyone is watching out for everyone else.
Here is just a sample of some of the alerts some Co Meath rural dwellers in one area received over the past several weeks.
June 18: House broken into in Knockcommon area between 4.15 and 5pm today. Alarm activated. If you saw or heard anything, contact gardai. Check your cameras.
June 25: Ford Transit minibus, two young males, Grennanstown area asking questions about townlands and names of places, also looking for directions, headed towards Kentstown/Navan, seemed suspicious.
June 26: Keep a look out for white Transit van, four persons on board, Hayestown area, heading for N2 now.
June 27: Keep a look out for silver Transit van, reg XXXXX seen in Kentstown and Navan areas offering services in a forceful manner. Report any sightings to gardai.
July 1: Tullyallen parent concerned when son followed home on bike by Northern reg van for approx two miles. Van drove off when child went into housing estate. Please don't let children out on roadside unaccompanied.
July 3: Red Volkswagen Golf, Rosnaree, selling left over goods, chainsaws, etc.
July 6: Green Jaguar, reg XXXXX males on board, acting suspiciously in Slane area. Keep a look out. Notify us if spotted. Gardai notified.
July 8: Barnatten reservoir, Hill of Rath, Tullyallen, attempted break-in to a car in the last few minutes. Three men and one woman in 02D Ford Focus. Gardai notified.
July 11: Pale blue 01 large blue van acting suspiciously around Rosnaree now.
18 July: Cemetery Devotions in Knockcommon this evening at 7pm. Be aware. Leave no valuables in parked cars on road.
July 19: Keep a look out for three guys in a dark Hyundai reg XXXXX acting suspiciously in Starinagh/Collon area.
July 22: Maroon Nissan X Trail reg XXXXX going round selling knives in the Collon area. Keep an eye out.
July 22: Keep a look out for red Laguna, partial reg XXX, last observed in Oldbridge area. All information to Ashbourne gardai or 999 if number busy.
August 4: Silver Polo reg XXXXX acting suspicious on Green Lane. Three or four males on board.
August 5: Keep a look out for white van reg XXXXXX, two males in high-viz jackets. Going door to door in Kentstown area. Suspected by gardai of crime nationwide.
August 8: Beware of green/blue Skoda KK reg with male occupant who called to elderly person in Collen earlier this week and also today. They tried to con money out of the elderly person. Contact gardai if you see this car.
August 18: Were you in Kentstown village anytime around 6.45 and 7.30pm this evening? Church vestry broken into. Gardai informed. Please pass on any info, even smallest detail. On a lovely bright evening somebody has to have seen something.
August 25: Alert. Keep a look out for two males in black BMW reg XXXXX seen acting suspiciously in Danestown area of Kentstown yesterday, may be still in the area.
August 27: White van acting suspicious at The Leck. Later a maroon van now seen in Grangegeeth. White van with it. Not sure if same reg as earlier text. Three guys with helmets on board.