Street markets to be targeted in blitz on burglars

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll will lead crackdown
Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll will lead crackdown
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Gardaí are to launch a summer crackdown on street markets where criminals sell hauls of stolen property.

They are also expanding their DNA database and targeting the top 20 gangs in the country in a bid to tackle the burglary scourge.

Criminal gangs often use street markets as a way to quickly dispose of stolen goods and property.

Gardaí are also trying to maximise advances being made with DNA and the expansion of the database, which increases the potential to identify and link suspects to crimes.

A winter offensive by gardaí against the travelling gangs responsible for a large proportion of the residential burglaries nationwide has led to a significant reduction in the crime over three months.

However, the savage attack on a man in his 80s on the northside of Dublin earlier this week is a grim reminder that the burglary nightmare for the elderly and the vulnerable is far from over.

Figures due to be published shortly will show the number of burglaries has dropped nationally by 14pc, or 3,440 crimes, from November to January, compared with the corresponding period in 2016-17.

The number also represents a fall of 8pc when compared with the total for the previous three months, from August to October last year.

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Separate statistics for the first 11 weeks of this year reveal a decrease of 14pc, or 1,560 residential burglaries, in the greater Dublin area.

The winter offensive was launched at the end of October as the end-of-year phase of Operation Thor.

It followed concern about an increase in the figures during the previous few months, as well as international evidence which indicated that burglaries tended to jump by an average of 22pc throughout the winter months.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll, head of special crime operations, told the Irish Independent: "We realise the impact that burglaries make on a community.

"And we believe it is important that we should continue to prioritise Thor and plan operations to reduce them".

An analysis of the results showed the arrest of key suspects puts a sizeable dent in the figures, particularly if those charged are held in custody.

Greater co-ordination of the activities of the personnel involved in Thor and sharing of intelligence among the regions has helped the crackdown on the travelling gangs.

The work of the Criminal Assets Bureau targeting the proceeds of crime gathered by the gangs involved has also been a factor.

The most prolific gangs continue to be based in west and south Dublin, but other significant groups have emerged in other large cities and in the Midlands, particularly in the Laois-Kildare area. The information exchange and analysis of the burglary patterns have resulted in a number of major interceptions by gardaí as the gangs were being forced to return to their bases after a series of attacks.

In one swoop, officers arrested members of three generations of one crime family.

An upgrade in the fleet of high-powered cars available to Garda units has also been critical in allowing officers to keep track of the fleeing gangs while setting up an intervention plan.

In one incident, a shot was fired at a Garda car before three suspects were arrested.

The shotgun used in the attack had been stolen earlier that day in a burglary.

Crime prevention officers warn that the front and back doors as well as rear windows are the favoured points of entry for the burglars.

They concentrate mainly on stealing cash and jewellery and prefer to operate between 5pm and 10pm.

Irish Independent