Burglars show no fear as just one-in-twelve are convicted

Clodagh Sheehy

JUST one burglar in 12 is ever convicted of the crime and more than 40pc of house break-ins occur in the Dublin area.

The impact of these burglaries should not be underestimated, says Labour TD Michael Conaghan, who has criticised the lack of a real deterrent that results from such a low conviction rate.

Criminal and victims were now aware that adequate forensic work was not undertaken in most cases and this further reduced the deterrent, Mr Conaghan told the Dail.

Most of the burglaries occurred in private homes and for many people it was the only form of crime they would encounter. It was also intrusive and invasive.

"It can be most distressing and disturbing for the families involved. Often -- and most of my Dail colleagues will have experienced this -- it changes people's perception of their own home."

The TD said that, of the 25,377 burglaries recorded in 2010, only one in four was actually tracked down by gardai. And only 2,000 -- one in 12 -- led to a conviction.

His own constituency of Dublin South Central had the highest burglary rate: 1,261 per 100,000 people.

Fear of being caught, he stressed, was the only real antidote to the problem.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, on behalf of Justice Minister Alan Shatter, said a garda campaign was being launched to highlight a range of key issues.

She said the campaign's primary objective was to engage with communities and raise awareness of initiatives aimed at preventing crime, reducing the fear of it and promoting community safety.

She also pointed to the Crimecall TV programme, broadcast once a month with an average audience of 400,000, which was often used by gardai to highlight the issue of burglary prevention and ongoing investigations.

She said the Government would do everything it could to support the garda in its work and provide resources as public finances permitted.

It would also respond to any legislative needs identified.