Sharp reduction in break-ins as crime patterns cracked
A DETAILED analysis by gardai of criminal patterns over the past five years has resulted in a significant drop in burglaries in less than 12 months.
The study became the gardai's secret weapon as they set out to tackle the soaring rate of burglaries nationwide.
By examining patterns that indicated what areas the prolific offenders favoured targeting, and when they were most likely to strike, garda patrols were ready to pounce when the burglars arrived.
As a result of what senior officers call predictive planning, the number of burglaries in the greater Dublin area has fallen by more than 10pc under Operation Acer, which was set up last March to combat the crime surge in the capital.
Newly compiled figures show that the number of burglaries has dropped from 9,572 to 8,495 in a year.
And crime statistics for the rest of the country also show that the spiral in burglaries is now heading downwards.
Since the third-quarter of last year the national total of break-ins has started to tumble again and the next results from the CSO are expected to confirm the trend.
Assistant Commissioner John Twomey explained: "Based on the outcome of the analysis, we sent dedicated patrols into areas where it was predicted burglaries would take place and concentrated on the likely times of day such as 5pm to 10pm during the winter months.
"The planning allowed us to focus our efforts and be pro-active rather than waiting to respond to an incident," he said.
Some burglars were caught in the act and others were arrested on their way to a crime and found in possession of housebreaking implements.
More were detained afterwards with stolen goods like phones, laptops and jewellery.
Operation Acer has resulted, so far, in more than 2,700 arrests in Dublin, with most of them ending up in the court.
The nationwide operation, codenamed Fiacla, has yielded 3,903 arrests and 2,142 people being charged, up to the end of January.
Senior officers are also keenly aware of the impact made by repeat offenders and local patrols are on alert when recidivists are released from prison.
One professional burglar was recently let out of jail on temporary release and within a couple of hours was caught breaking into a house. He was charged and sent back into custody.
Officers now keep in close contact with the Irish Prison Service on the release dates for their top targets.
In some of the other regional initiatives, feeding into Fiacla, a lot of resources are being put into tackling the travelling criminals, who are operating out of bases in the main cities and using the national road network to prey on vulnerable homeowners in rural areas.