Sunday 25 June 2017

Weddings and funerals seen as prime times for gangs to hit rural homes

The Tánaiste made the overtime pledge as farmers’ leaders stepped up their campaign for increased policing hours and a bigger presence in rural areas (Stock picture)
The Tánaiste made the overtime pledge as farmers’ leaders stepped up their campaign for increased policing hours and a bigger presence in rural areas (Stock picture)

Ralph Riegel and Tom Brady

Weddings, holidays, even funerals or the school run are seen by burglary gangs as prime opportunities to strike.

They are ruthlessly exploiting social media and other local intelligence to better target 'high yield' rural homes.

Tánaiste France Fitzgerald yesterday pledged almost €90m in garda overtime funding to tackle rural crime and other major policing operations.

She said the Government was determined that the force would remain properly resourced to face down criminals.

The Justice Minister highlighted Operation Thor, which has slashed burglaries and property crime by a third since its launch in November 2015.

She said the provision of the additional €88.5m for overtime would ensure the deployment of extra personnel throughout the year to "keep up the pressure" on the crime gangs.

Gardaí however admitted that gangs, many operating from Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, are constantly changing their tactics.

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

The Tánaiste made the overtime pledge last night as farmers' leaders stepped up their campaign for increased policing hours and a bigger presence in rural areas.

Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) national treasurer Jer Bergin said: "This is organised crime. These gangs run it like a business and when some of the main figures are taken out of the picture, you can see the effects on the ground.

"Community-based gardaí are the most effective tool in policing a country like Ireland. The continued recruitment of new gardaí and the allocation of extra personnel will go a long way to restoring that sense of security for rural dwellers".

Mr Bergin said there was no doubt that gardaí had become more visible in the past six months.

The Tánaiste told the Irish Independent that the scale of garda activity under Thor was illustrated by almost 40,000 crime prevention patrols and over 50,000 targeted checkpoints nationwide.

Garda Chief Supt Dominic Hayes, who has carried out a series of operations to reassure the public in his Kilkenny-Carlow division and also headed up the investigation into the murder of 90-year-old farmer, Paddy Lyons, said he accepted that the perception of the level of crime in rural areas presented another challenge they had to meet.

Irish Independent

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