Monday 26 September 2016

'My mother should feel safe in her own bed at home - but she doesn't '

On Friday, Tipp hurler Lar Corbett became a crime statistic - again. He tweeted: "When I get the f***ing p**** that broke into my pub last night and took the week's takings, I will be taking the law into my own hands this time." He explains his fury to Ronald Quinlan

Published 30/08/2015 | 02:30

ANGER: Tipperary’s Lar Corbett with his wife Elaine and one-year-old daughter Fay after the Munster Hurling Final in Thurles, Co Tipperary, back in June
ANGER: Tipperary’s Lar Corbett with his wife Elaine and one-year-old daughter Fay after the Munster Hurling Final in Thurles, Co Tipperary, back in June
A still image from CCTV footage shows the man who broke into Corbett’s pub in Thurles on Thursday night and stole the week’s takings

The tweet is exactly how I felt at the time, and it's exactly how I'm feeling right now. We're the ones putting in all the hard work, the staff are putting in all the hard work and this guy can walk out of Liberty Square, [in Thurles] walk down the street; he had a key to our front door, he came walking in with customers and staff still downstairs.

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He walked upstairs in the dark, walked around there in the dark, which is a very hard thing to do.

He had the code for the office and he knew his way around that too. He knew exactly where he was going in the office.

He spent seven or eight minutes inside before leaving with the cash. There was a substantial amount of cash on the premises and it's gone

I hope that I don't get to him before the gardai do.

I have sympathy for the gardai and the job they do. There was a big meeting in the Anner Hotel last week and the Chief Superintendent and Superintendent of the gardai were there with the community.

We understand the gardai are under resourced but this is a problem and the people are crying out for help.

People are afraid in their own homes. My own mother was robbed twice the Christmas before last in the space of six weeks in her own home. Now it's come to my business.

We had an attempted break-in about three months ago. The guys who tried to rob us then pulled up in a car on the footpath outside and they were trying to kick in the door when there were cars passing. This guy came in on Thursday night when there were cars passing as well. They know the chances of getting caught are very, very slim.

That's down to a lack of gardai. The gardai are doing their best but they're short of manpower, they're short of squad cars. When they do catch the criminals and bring them to court, the system lets them away with a fine or community service. There's no real threat to the criminal. A sergeant came to us yesterday. We had written down a list of the businesses in Thurles that might have CCTV footage from the outside of their premises. People have come forward and been very helpful, but there's only two gardai on in Thurles today and the two of them are in Borrisoleigh dealing with a burglary.

So that means they're gone and the squad car is gone and Thurles is wide open today.

I don't know when they'll have time to come back to me. This is a huge issue for our business and we're looking for help to solve this. We can only do so much ourselves.

Somebody local did this to us and somebody who knew the pub. So it's tougher. If it was somebody just doing a drive by [it might be easier to come to terms with]. But I reckon it's going to be easier to catch this guy judging by the CCTV footage and from the people who have come forward to us from the town already. We're closing in on this guy and we're closing on the car that dropped him off. We're getting very, very close to him. This guy will definitely be caught. We're very, very close.

If the Taoiseach was standing in front of me today, I would say: 'Taoiseach, we needed a guard here yesterday going through our CCTV footage and we needed that burned off the system. We needed the guard going around the local businesses talking to people and we needed him to talk to me and to my staff to get the full round-up of this guy's movements coming from Liberty Square. That's what I need as an individual.' I've had contact with a guard today but now it's two o'clock and we're no further along than we were at one o'clock yesterday.

That's the reality but it's not the fault of the gardai. It's the Government.

They have our gardai protecting Enda Kenny and his ministers and policing water protesters. It's not just me. It's happening all over the country. Everyone you meet seems to have been broken into. I'm just trying to highlight what's after happening me but I do understand it's happening all over the Thurles area and all over the country. I'm just trying to do my best to solve this as best I can myself.

I'm not a guard but I'm doing my best to get the information together between the CCTV and Twitter and social media to give to the gardai so, when they do come to me, I can tell them 'I've this much work done'. I want to put as many of the pieces of the jigsaw together and see can they put the final pieces in to get this guy.

They just don't have the resources to get to me today. It's a huge, huge shame. I shouldn't have to try to solve this, but I'm trying to help.

But what if they do catch this guy? Best case scenario, is he going to agree to give back a tenner a week?

The consequences for the crime don't match up. The fella committing the crime says to himself 'I might as well keep doing it because the consequences don't outweigh the risk'. It's demoralising for the gardai. It has been tough in this business. Pubs have been closing. It's things like this and the staff know it. This thing could actually close us, and we have to pull this out of the fire. We need to get to these lads quickly. We're close to nailing them.

My mother is 72. She left the house for a half hour on both occasions she was burgled. It's not my mother's house getting robbed and it's not other elderly people's houses being robbed that gets to them.

It's that they know they're not being protected because the resources aren't there for the gardai to do it.

That's a huge thing for my mother and others to say, that when she closes her door, is she safe?"

Sunday Independent

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