The coronavirus lockdown has stopped criminals in their tracks, with gardaí recording an unprecedented drop in reported crime across the country.
here have been dramatic reductions in practically every category of offence, including burglary, sexual offences and assaults, in the two weeks since the strict sanctions were rolled out.
But senior sources say they expect the figures will continue to drop as thousands of gardaí are deployed across the country to ensure compliance with the almost total lockdown restrictions announced on Friday.
Empty streets, closed businesses and increased Garda numbers on the ground have seen some crimes dropping by up to 50pc in the past fortnight.
With more gardaí on duty than ever before, criminals are feeling the heat, finding it difficult to move around the country to commit robberies or move drugs.
Drug gangs are experiencing similar disruption to their supply chains as those of legitimate businesses when it comes to sourcing, transporting and distributing their product. The closure of pubs and clubs has also caused a dip in demand for drugs such as cocaine.
Figures seen by Independent.ie show that in Dublin, overall detection rates have soared to 48pc, including an increase of 23pc in arrests for possession of drugs for sale and supply.
On Friday, the daily Garda national critical incident bulletin for the whole country reported nine serious incidents taking place over the previous 12 hours - when typically the average ranges between 20 and 30 incidents.
Security sources revealed that the number of burglaries in particular has plummeted across the country, with some rural divisions reporting no offences taking place in the previous 24 hours for the first time in years.
There were 22 burglaries reported nationwide during the 48-hour period around St Patrick's Day, which reflects a drop of about 80pc on the same period last year when there were more than 100 incidents.
One senior garda told Independent.ie: "The picture across the country is that there has been a huge drop in crime, the likes of which I haven't seen before.
"They (criminals) tend to stick out like sore thumbs when the roads are empty and there are more gardaí on duty than ever before to do proactive policing, so the coronavirus is causing them a lot more than health concerns."
Analysis of the headline crime figures in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) for the first quarter of the year shows significant reductions in all categories of crime. Sexual offences are down 21pc, while robbery from an establishment fell by 22pc. Criminal damage and theft from the person fell by 14pc; assaults causing harm are down 9pc; theft of vehicles and burglaries are down 8pc; property crime and crimes against the person dropped by 7pc; and theft of other property was down 4pc.
Sources said the sudden drop in crime levels over recent weeks had driven down the cumulative statistics for the first three months of the year.
There were 162 burglaries recorded in the Greater Dublin Area during the week ending February 9, which, according to gardaí, reflects the weekly average across the year.
However, during the first full week of the coronavirus restrictions and closures, the week ending March 22, there were 66 burglaries reported, representing a 60pc reduction.
Garda sources say they expect that the figure will have fallen even further when the figures for the past week are compiled.
Over the weekend, gardaí mounted an intensive policing operation across the country to enforce the strict movement restrictions and the order for the public to stay in their homes.
At checkpoints, drivers are being asked for ID and to explain the purpose of their journey.
Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has ordered a zero-tolerance approach to thugs who deliberately spit or cough at others.
A healthcare worker had to go into isolation after a man with coronavirus spat in her face while she was working in a Dublin hospital.
There have also been a number of similar attacks against gardaí and members of the public, with the Commissioner appealing to members of the public to report incidents where they have been coughed or spat at.
The Garda authorities have ordered 16,000 spit hoods to protect officers on the street.