1,500 burglary suspects were out on bail
MORE than 1,500 suspects for burglaries in the past year were on bail at the time of the offence, new figures show.
According to the Central Statistics Office, suspects accused of carrying out 1,585 burglaries in 2012 were already before the courts on separate offences.
Since the garda authorities set up Operation Fiacla early last year to tackle the nationwide spate of burglaries, measures have been taken to build up profiles of suspected repeat offenders.
Senior gardai appoint a case officer to each prime suspect, and all of the burglary charges against a target can then be logged onto one overall file and presented together to the district court, rather than bringing charges separately.
Gardai are also liaising with the Prison Service to keep watch on the release of repeat offenders after they have completed their prison sentences.
Officers say that, in many urban areas, the number of burglaries can be determined by the whereabouts of known offenders.
Local patrols are put on alert when recidivists are released from prison after serving a sentence for burglary or aggravated burglary, and some of them are believed to carry out 10 offences in a day while terrorising a neighbourhood.
Last week, it was disclosed that Operation Fiacla had so far resulted in the arrest of 5,233 people, with 2,903 brought before the courts to face criminal charges.
Last night's figures show a huge number of the suspected offenders are on bail.
Senator Tom Sheahan, who was given the figures by the Central Statistics Office, said they showed that burglars were acting with impunity.
"They have no fear of getting caught when out on bail as they often face lengthy prison sentences anyway," he added.
He called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter and the Courts Service to review the current practice of giving continual bail to repeat offenders.
Mr Sheahan pointed out that the man convicted of breaking into Mr Shatter's home had been on bail at the time for firearm offences.
The latest figures show that burglaries have fallen nationwide by 9pc.