Monday 24 July 2017

'Sock draped on a gate' could mean your home is a target for burglars

Stock picture
Stock picture
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Urban gangs are now avoiding the motorway network which they exploited to unleash a reign of terror across rural Ireland.

Instead, gangs are using old primary routes to try to minimise Garda attention. They are also increasingly avoiding the use of powerful cars such as BMWs, Audis and Volvos.

Instead, gangs prefer using nondescript cars to avoid attracting attention to themselves while they scout areas for break-ins.

The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) crime figures show a 31pc decline in the number of burglaries nationwide over the past 12 months.

But gardaí admitted that crime gangs, many operating from Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, have modified their operating tactics in direct response to Operation Thor.

Sources said that they prefer to keep a low profile and use back roads once they have scoped out a specific area.

Urban gangs are increasingly avoiding the use of powerful cars such as BMWs, Audis and Volvos. Photo: PA
Urban gangs are increasingly avoiding the use of powerful cars such as BMWs, Audis and Volvos. Photo: PA

Gangs are also devoting more resources to local intelligence sources - paying 'spotters' in specific areas to identify target houses for them.

These houses are then marked with innocent-looking items such as socks draped on gates or paint on telegraph poles to identify them to the burglars.

Raiders are now increasingly trying to avoid houses with alarms or dogs in a bid to prevent a rapid Garda response.

Gardaí are also increasingly concerned at the way gangs and local 'spotters' are using social media to help identify when houses are temporarily empty or owners are away.

Read more: 'Garda visibility is the key to reassuring rural communities' - IFA's Jer Bergin

"We have come across cases where particular homes have been robbed and the suspicion is that it was on the clear basis of information obtained from social media postings by the family involved," a senior Garda warned.

"People need to be very careful of what they are posting on social media about their movements."

The success of Operation Thor for gardaí came against a backdrop that just three in every 10 crimes against property are solved in some garda areas.

Garda studies indicated that the overwhelming majority of burglaries still rank as "crimes of opportunity".

However, they admitted there has been a worrying shift in gang tactics to greater use of local intelligence to target specific potentially 'high-yield' targets.

Cash and jewellery account for an estimated 90pc of the valuables stolen from homes.

The recklessness of some gangs in attempting to flee from robberies at high speed has also been slated by Garda bodies.

Garda Representative Association (GRA) official Dermot O'Brien warned that the antics of some burglary gangs were putting the lives of gardaí and members of the public at risk.

Garda patrol cars have been rammed in incidents in Dublin, Donegal, Waterford and Laois over the past 18 months.

Irish Independent

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