'Filthy 50' criminals targeted by gardaí in burglary crackdown
Gardaí have compiled a comprehensive list of 50 prolific burglars and serial theft offenders as part of a crackdown on a crime epidemic plaguing the east coast.
The efforts by the Wicklow Garda division have seen a dramatic drop in burglaries in the first two weeks of the year.
Gardaí have established a 'Filthy 50' list of people of interest, and established that 22 of this group are based within the Bray Garda district alone.
This district is part of the Wicklow division where a special "scoring card" against criminals has been drawn up.
So far, a total of nine of these suspects have been locked up as part of the special policing plan which has been ongoing for three months.
However, a reckless 17-year-old from Greystones continues to avoid apprehension despite being suspected of involvement in a crimewave which includes up to 50 incidents in around two months.
Gardaí have brought the suspect before the courts many times but he has been granted bail and is now under constant surveillance.
Specialist officers have compiled a hierarchy of 50 serious offenders who have been ranked in terms of priority from one to 50 in relation to the crimes they have committed.
Among the criminals on the list are three females, including a 15-year-old girl who is responsible for 23 shoplifting incidents on Bray's Main Street.
The 15-year-old is ranked '22' on the list, while other women on the Garda radar include a criminal from Rathfarnham, south Dublin, as well as a prolific female shoplifter from Bray.
Sources have revealed that the intensive Garda drive against the criminal gangs targeting Co Wicklow has paid major dividends.
"January has always been the worst month for burglaries in Co Wicklow, and in the first two weeks of last year there were 41 burglaries committed in the county, but in the first two weeks of this year there were 17 - this is a good result," a source said.
It can be revealed that out of the 50 members of the 'Filthy 50' list, 32 of these criminals are based in Co Wicklow, while the other 18 are largely based in Dublin, in areas such as Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Ballybrack. Investigations have established that 19 of the criminals based in Wicklow are juvenile offenders.
The significant Garda clampdown comes after a special operation was set up last September to tackle the criminals in a multi-faceted way.
"The targets were identified and surveillance operations were put in place. A case management strategy was then enabled in which an individual detective was given responsibility for an individual offender.
"This garda is then responsible for the offender and is in charge of making sure, for example, that outstanding warrants are served and bail conditions are strictly adhered to," a source said.
Wicklow division gardaí have also used Operation Thor checkpoints to tackle the epidemic and have made a number of significant arrests.