'They've taken my livelihood' - Man 'devastated' after €60k worth of tools stolen from van outside hotel
A man has had "twenty years of hard work poured down the drain" after tools worth up to €60,000 were stolen from his van on Tuesday night.
Christy Swanick was staying in a hotel in the Tyrrelstown area in west Dublin and discovered this morning that his van had been broken into and all his tools taken.
Mr Swanick, a self-employed man who works in the refrigeration business, said this incident has been a "huge blow" to his livelihood and his family.
The equipment was extremely "high-end" and specialised and the Roscommon man is pleading with people to "think before they buy" secondhand tools at car boot sales.
"Without my tools, I am nothing...I'm just a man in a van," he told RTÉ Radio One's Liveline.
"If people didn't buy from these scumbags in the first place, there would be no market and there would be no point in them robbing the tools in the first place."
Mr Swanick said because his car was parked outside a hotel, it is unlikely he will be able to claim on his insurance, meaning he will be left substantially out of pocket.
"The insurance companies say you have to take reasonable car to help prevent things like this from happening. Apparently parking your van in a well lit area under CCTV cameras is not reasonable," he said.
"Twenty years of hard work, twenty years of getting up in the morning, it's all for nothing. Leo Varadkar mentions the people who get up early, and I'm one of these people, but the system in this country is biased towards people who feel society owes them something.
"Even if they get caught, they'll be part of the revolving door justice system. This has had an immeasurable effect on my life and my family's life."
Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Swanick said that he won't be able to continue his work until he replaces the tools.
"I am the sole provider for my wife and two children, they're the reason I get up every day and this is the last thing we need.
"I have to look at my finances now and see what I have to do to replace the equipment, which certainly won't help me.
"Our country is lopsided. The east of the country is going to soon tip into the sea as there is no political will to bring anything to the west of Ireland and that's why people like me have to go up and down to Dublin."
Gardai confirmed they are currently investigating the incident.
"Gardaí are investigating a theft from MPV incident outside a hotel in Tyrrelstown. The incident occurred between 26th-27th September 2017. No arrests made, investigation ongoing," a spokesman said.
Independent.ie spoke to a number of people who have had their tools stolen in the Dublin area over the past year.
David Lee had €2,000 worth of tools stolen in broad daylight from his van which was parked outside a supermarket in the Swords area.
He previously had €4,000 worth of equipment stolen in a separate incident.
"I am after buying slam locks but all that's going to do is slow them down, it's not going to stop them.
"It's absolutely rampant at the minute and something needs to be done about it."
Gavin Skelly works as a carpenter and had around €2,000 worth of equipment stolen from his van which was parked outside his Tallaght home.
The incident happened on July 25 and was reported to gardai, but the tools haven't been located. A garda spokesman said the investigation is ongoing.
"I was asleep in the front room of my house and me and my wife didn't hear a thing. I got a call from one of the neighbours and came out and all my tools were gone," Gavin told Independent.ie.
"These gangsters are targeting hard-working people and ruining livelihoods. It’s the kind of thing where people just replace them and get on with it as they're too scared to do anything. I got all the locks upgraded on my van and I got an alarm in. You pay for a top of the range van and then the locks are made of chocolate...These people are highly organised and know what they're doing when they're breaking in."
Increase in thefts
While data on the amount of tools reported stolen in recent years is not available, security experts say there has been a "definite increase" in burglaries and thefts.
John Kinsella, managing director of Accura Security Products Limited, said Ireland is suffering a "crimewave of epidemic proportions."
"You just have to look at Facebook or LinkedIn on a daily basis and you will see that theft of tools from vehicles and on sites is a really serious matter and it’s happening constantly," he told Independent.ie.
"Most trades people need to have branded vehicles which look great and really enhance their brand, however this is also a double edged sword. Whilst showing people what you do sometimes you are showing the criminal what you have."
Mr Kinsella offered the following security advice:
- Avoid vehicles with glass at the back doors and ensure that your vehicle has a fixed metal partition between the driver and cargo area.
- If you are attending a site or premises to carry out work be mindful to check on the vehicle on a regular but not routine basis.
- Install a vehicle CCTV system/alarm internally which can report intrusion directly to your smartphone.
- When on Facebook stop telling everyone where you are if you are a target, think practical.
- When your commercial vehicle is parked at home etc. ensure that rear and side doors are visible to you from within the house.
- In the event of an intrusion/ attempt on your vehicle DO NOT attempt to tackle the criminals, call the Gardaí and make plenty of noise and turn on lights and set off your intruder alarm.
- Consider a monitored solution, whilst expensive please note that monitoring stations never sleep.
- Photograph and mark all tools with your own particular codes and keep a note of this for future reference or for Gardaí.
If you have had your tools stolen and want to share your story, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org