SAFE sales are soaring as more and more worried bank customers stash their cash at home.
AIB said last month that the amount of money on deposit at the bank has fallen by €13bn since the start of the year -- although it blamed most of the reduction on withdrawals by companies and financial institutions.
Another reason for the increased use of home security safes is a growing fear of burglaries because of the recession.
The AllSafes.ie company, one of the largest suppliers in the country, said its sales of home safes had increased by 80pc over the past three months compared with the same period last year.
Its founder, Neil Donnelly, said that most customers did not reveal their purpose for buying one --except to say they wanted it to store cash or jewellery. But some of them had specifically cited their fears about the banks while buying a home safe.
"There is actually quite a big increase. I have had one or two instances where people have said to me: 'I don't trust the banks'," he said.
The AllSafes company, which is based in Duleek, Co Meath, sells safes ranging in price from €50 to more than €5,000. Mr Donnelly claimed that "not even a stick of dynamite" would open the most expensive safes.
"Those would be safes suitable for €75,000--€100,000 of cash," he said.
His company's sales of all safes (including those for businesses) have increased by 25pc in the past three months but the steepest rise --of 80pc -- has been in the home category.
Mr Donnelly pointed out that safes would provide a "very significant deterrent" to the casual burglar, but emphasised that he was not urging people to take their money out of the banks.
"I'm not saying it's a sensible thing to do at all. It's up to the individual person themselves to decide what they want to do with their cash," he said.
People who keep their money at home lose out on interest payments.
Mr Donnelly said the most popular type of home safe was the underfloor model, which could be hidden under carpet or floor covering. It was also possible to fit them in walls and cover them with a painting.
"The average safe people would be going for would cost €400-€500 and it would be suitable for €4,000-€5,000 in cash. That could be a guideline to the sort of cash people are keeping at home," he added.
Last year, burglaries increased in some parts of the country by three times the national average. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), there were 27,000 burglaries of homes in total.
Gardai have warned people to be extra vigilant around the Christmas period.
Their advice includes locking doors and windows securely, not leaving items on display and being aware of the potential for 'fishing', where thieves use long implements to reach through letter boxes and steal car and house keys.
The Garda Press Office was asked if it had any recommendations on keeping cash at home in a safe rather than in the bank.
In a statement, it said it advised people to follow the advice given on the garda.ie website in relation to personal and home security. However, there is no advice on the garda website on this. Instead, there is security advice on doors, windows, lighting and the garden/environment.