Families spend €10k on security systems, panic buttons and underfloor safes
Rural homeowners are spending close to €10,000 on infrared CCTV cameras, burglar alarms, motion sensor security lighting, and underfloor safes, amid growing concern over the scourge of violent gangs.
As the fear of break-ins and burglaries escalates, families are investing huge sums on surveillance technology.
Security firms across the country report a heightened sense of vigilance and awareness. Among the most popular security options are panic buttons, intercom networks, motion sensor security lighting and underfloor home safes.
Big purchases include families who are spending up to €4,000 on CCTV and €3,000 on electronic gates.
PhoneWatch, the major provider of home security systems, now has more than 100,000 customers and reported that demand has been on the increase nationally.
Martin Crothers, director of Crothers Security in Walkinstown, north Dublin, said fear was the main reason for the boom in sales, especially among those living in rural areas.
A monitored CCTV system is the "minimum" for people whose house is in an isolated part of the country.
He also pointed out that many burglars were now gaining entry by using a technique called "cylinder snapping".
They can break into a property within a matter of seconds, by simply applying enough force if there is a cylinder lock on a door.
It is usually done with a pair of mole grips, or a claw hammer, snapping the lock it at its weakest point in the centre.
Aaron Mooney, commercial director of Dublin-based security firm Action24, said there had also been a growing trend of burglars targeting homes in "clusters".
This means three or four properties are burgled in a particular area on the one night. "It indicates there are people travelling around hitting a group of houses they have selected as part of a single job.
"We regularly install panic buttons - and more and more homeowners are looking to get them. They're especially being bought for elderly relatives living on their own.
"We see a lot of evidence of phone lines being cut by thieves, which renders the alarm system redundant."
He pointed out that in provincial Ireland phone lines tended to be more visible, compared with suburban locations, and this was a big risk.
"But thankfully people are getting away from phone lines altogether and moving towards wireless monitoring," he added.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Niall Bishop, from Electro Automation in Dublin, said gangs were targeting the homes of people who commuted long distances to work.
"So many people commute for work from rural areas; it means their houses are left unattended for long periods. Burglars view these properties as easy prey."
Ciaran O'Connell of security group Burglarybusters, said buying a door with a steel frame was the only way to ensure it would prevent a break-in.
Martin Stairs, a Dublin-based security consultant, said the installation of automatic gates at entrances to houses were growing in popularity.
He advised anyone living in a rural property to consider getting CCTV with infrared capabilities installed, because of the lower level of lighting compared with urban areas.
"There's the glow of the bright lights in the cities, but once you move out into the country, lighting is non-existent in some parts, so infrared CCTV is crucial."
He also pointed out that people were moving away from analogue cameras, and were instead purchasing megapixel HD devices.