Crime nation: Spider burglars, battering rams, chain gangs
Forget cat burglars - a new generation of spider burglars is now using spikes to walk up the side of buildings.
External wall insulation has become increasingly popular, but burglars can use spikes or even a screwdriver to stick into the surface, climbing the walls to an upstairs window.
This is among the latest in an ever-expanding armoury of tricks and tactics that sophisticated criminals are using in an attempt to outfox homeowners and gardaí.
As well as so-called 'spider burglaries', there are less subtle methods.
In the search for high-end cars, burglars are targeting houses very near motorway exits when a family is asleep and literally bursting open the front door with a battering ram. They quickly locate the car keys, drive off in the vehicle and are on the motorway within minutes.
The 'chain gang' method is also being used. While a house burglary takes place, the thieves park a spotter at a junction within sight of the house.
He is in walkie-talkie contact with an accomplice monitoring the garda station and other movements.
This means that the gang can take their time, knowing that they have a time advantage over the gardaí.
Burglary expert Jim Toal of Fairco.ie said: "There are other, more violent, methods. The bottom line is that we have a new breed who are not frightened by gardaí, alarms or CCTV."
He also stressed that seasoned burglars "do their homework" and have been known to track the movements of home owners before a break-in.
Fairco provides high-security doors and windows and Mr Toal said that he had been called to scenes of burglaries where doors had literally been "taken off the hinges".
More than 28,000 houses were burgled in Ireland last year. Garda figures indicate that 75pc of break-ins are committed by 25pc of burglars.
Reoffending rates are almost 80pc for those who are imprisoned for burglary and related offences.