How to protect your home as burglars' €11m haul over just six months revealed
BURGLARS stole €7.7m in jewellery and €3m in cash from homes across the country in just six months – and 100 vehicles were stolen after the keys were 'fished' through the letterbox.
The combined value accounted for more than 75pc of the €14m worth of goods snatched in break-ins during the final six months of 2013.
Gardai recorded 100 cases between July and December in which thieves were able to fish for car keys through letterboxes and therefore steal the vehicle.
The details emerged as part of the Garda's national crime prevention awareness day, which aims to encourage people to take simple steps to protect their homes.
With 30pc of burglaries taking place between 5pm and 8pm, householders were asked to ensure their properties look occupied.
"There's a simple thing people can do. If you're away, get a timer switch to put on your lights so they come on in those hours," said Sergeant Kelvin Courtney of the Garda's National Crime Prevention Unit.
"A burglar is an opportunist. If they're walking by a number of houses, they'll pick the house that's easiest to go to," he said.
Approximately 24,000 break-ins take place every year, with thieves gaining access through an unlocked door or window in 20pc of cases.
Sgt Courtney said: "As the weather gets warmer, burglaries increasingly take place through unsecured doors and windows.
"They're not necessarily targeting your 42in television, they're targeting small goods that they can take away, easily concealed, and that they can get rid of as soon as possible."
Gardai use the acronym CRAVED (Concealable, Removable, Available, Enjoyable and Disposable) – to refer to the possessions most likely to be stolen.
"The items we see taken are cash, jewellery, small electronic items like smartphones, game consoles.
"These are things they can get their hands on quickly, remove them, sell them quickly," he said.
Highlighting the tactic of 'fishing', Sgt Courtney said burglars "lift up the letterbox and they're in with a telescopic rod with some magnet on the end of it and they're taking your keys away".
Householders were advised to keep valuables hidden and not to keep large amounts of cash at home.
They were also advised to upgrade to reinforced 'europrofile' locks, which are far more difficult to disable than standard cylinder locks.
In winter, up to 20pc of burglaries take place during twilight hours when homes can look unoccupied. In the six months to the end of December, 15pc occurred overnight.
Sgt Courtney, speaking yesterday in Harcourt Square, Dublin, added that Operation Fiacla, which targets travelling criminals, has led to more than 7,000 people being arrested and more than 4,000 charged.