'Farming couple (70s) barricade themselves into their home and farmyard' - harrowing stories revealed in rural crime debate

Minister says Operation Thor has produced in the region of 6,130 arrests and 6,920 charges

The entrance to Richie McKelvey's farm at Coolderry, Co. Offaly today,
PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The entrance to Richie McKelvey's farm at Coolderry, Co. Offaly today, PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A number of shocking rural crime cases were detailed during a debate in the Dail this week.

Cavan-Monaghan TD, Niamh Smyth yesterday highlighted examples from her constituency of what she described as a 'rural crime epidemic'.

She said in recent months there had been eight break-ins at people's homes across an area from Clones, County Monaghan to Mountain Lodge, County Cavan.

She added that these crimes happened in broad daylight, generally between early morning and lunchtime.

In a debate on Rural Crime in the Dail this week, the Fianna Fail TD highlighted a case in the Cootehill area, where the home of a couple in their early 70s was one of 16 homes and businesses that were broken into in the past number of weeks.

“That particular couple had to barricade their farm machinery and equipment and almost barricade themselves into their home and farmyard.

“On three occasions during the past couple of weeks, that one farmyard and house was broken into, with attempted robbery on one occasion while equipment was stolen on two occasions.

'Had to wait 40 minutes for a Garda car to come from a different county'

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She also detailed a break-in at a family home in the Mountain Lodge area of Cavan.

“Luckily, the children were at school when this happened. This young couple had left their house earlier that day to go somewhere.

“When they came back at lunchtime, they found three men - criminals - ransacking their home.

“They arrived at the back door to find a man standing there with a hurley stick, ready to attack whoever got in his way,” she said.

Smyth claimed the local Garda station in Cootehill has restricted opening hours.

"The family were faced with a criminal standing at their back door with a hurley in his hand and had to wait 40 minutes for a Garda car to come from Carrickmacross, which is in a different county.

"Cootehill Garda station has restricted hours so there was nobody available at that time and the family had to wait 40 minutes for a Garda car to arrive.

"Three hours later, those criminals were seen crossing the Border into a different jurisdiction and had not been apprehended at any point in their spree of break-ins from Clones to Mountain Lodge in County Cavan.

“Garda resources are starved in this area and we need them to be replenished,” she said.

"92,040 targeted checkpoints and 71,700 crime prevention patrols nationwide" - Minister

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan assured TDs that An Garda Síochána carefully monitors the activities of criminal groups affecting all areas of the country and is implementing strong policing measures to disrupt and dismantle their networks.

He said it is the Garda Commissioner and his management team who are responsible for the deployment of Garda resources, including personnel, to specific areas.

“However, l am advised that Garda management constantly monitors the distribution of resources in light of crime trends and overall policing needs.

“The Deputies will appreciate that very significant resources have been provided to An Garda Síochána, including an overtime allocation of €100 million announced in budget 2018 to support large-scale policing operations, including Operation Thor,” he said.

Minister Flanagan said it is also worth noting that Operation Thor has now entered its winter phase, which will run from October 29, 2017 to April 1, 2018.

“The scale of Garda activity against burglary and property crime under Operation Thor has led to concentrated Garda activity resulting to date in over 92,040 targeted checkpoints and 71,700 crime prevention patrols nationwide.

“This concentrated policing activity has produced in the region of 6,130 arrests and 6,920 charges covering a range of offences, which, in addition to burglary, have included handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences,” he said.

Flanagan also said Operation Thor has targeted mobile criminal gangs engaged in burglary and related crimes and it is encouraging to note that since the launch of the operation in November 2015, the burglary figures have shown a significant downward trend.

Online Editors


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