Traffic cameras in patrol cars to force burglars off roads
Gardai get new tool in nationwide crackdown
COMPUTERISED cameras attached to garda traffic corps cars are now playing a key part in the nationwide crackdown on travelling burglars, the Irish Independent has learned.
The cameras are being deployed to identify vehicles associated with known suspects and the footage is also helping gardai to determine where the burglars are operating.
Earlier this year, senior officers gave the 919-strong garda traffic corps a bigger role in tackling crime -- and its key weapon has been the Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.
Front and rear ANPR-enabled cameras have been fitted to a large portion of the 321 vehicles currently in the traffic fleet.
The cameras record number- plate details, which are stored in a computer in the vehicle. Officers are immediately alerted if a suspect car has been spotted.
Initially, the system was used to help detect drivers who were suspected of being in breach of traffic regulations.
But now, ANPR has become a valuable tool in the clampdown on travelling criminals, known as Operation Fiacla.
The success of the garda operation since it began in early March has already forced some of the serial offenders off the nation's roads.
Garda intelligence indicates that a number of key figures in the burglary gangs have left their homes here and moved their activities to the UK.
Other gangs have seriously curtailed their robbing sprees around the country and are remaining at their bases in west and south Dublin, instead of making regular sorties to the commuter counties around the capital.
The intelligence also suggests there has been a marked decrease in the number of burglaries in the past few weeks, although the statistics for the first three months have not yet been fully compiled.
A senior garda told the Irish Independent last night that with the assistance of ANPR they had now identified 120 vehicles that were linked to the travelling gangs.
Where an alert has been raised about a vehicle, the garda traffic officers will pursue and intercept it. This has resulted in the seizure of housebreaking instruments and sometimes in the recovery of stolen property.
Six garda regional divisions are feeding into Operation Fiacla. In Dublin, where the initiative has been codenamed Operation Acer, clampdowns began a couple of weeks earlier.
From its March launch up to the middle of this month, Acer has resulted in the arrest of 398 people; while 611 charges have been brought and applications made for 19 summonses.
Two suspects have already been convicted and jailed by the courts.