'I'm a tough lad, but I wouldn't leave the house,' says farmer after sixth robbery in 13 years
A frustrated farmer broke down in tears as he told how farmers are being forced to make armed patrols of their property at night out of fear of being robbed.
Farmer Clive Clarke (37), who runs his family's mixed farm with his wife and two young children in Barna, Co Offaly, was robbed for the sixth time in 13 years on Tuesday night. A criminal gang cut the security fence to his property and made off with close to €13,000 worth of goods and equipment while the family slept.
The brazen theft in the middle of the night has not only left him without the tools of his trade to "make an honest living", but has left him and other farmers living in such a state of fear that "farmers are now going on armed patrols at night. There's licensed firearm holders who are actually patrolling areas of the countryside at night because they're in fear," he told Newstalk Radio yesterday.
"It's gotten to the stage where people are so terrified," Mr Clarke added.
For legal reasons, he declined to say if he had ever personally taken up arms - but he stressed that the scourge of rural crime had got to the stage where farmers like himself were at breaking point, both financially and psychologically.
"There's people cracking up," he told the Irish Independent.
"If it's not the rain or bad prices, it's someone stealing your stuff. What's next? How can you take it?" he said.
"I'm no shrinking violet. I'm a fine, tough lad. But I wouldn't leave the house [at night]."