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Blitz on gang who snatch bags while you try on shoes

GARDAI in the capital have launched a major blitz on "shoe shop thieves" who are targeting unsuspecting customers as they try on footwear, the Herald can reveal.

Officers have noted a spate of thefts involving bags and wallets which are being carried out in retail outlets and have increased their presence in busy shopping districts.

Shops around Henry Street and other Northside locations are being closely monitored by undercover gardai.

The blitz has been extremely successful with more than 10 culprits being arrested in recent weeks.

Valuables

Sources have described shoe shops as one of the "main targets" in recent weeks as enterprising thieves pinpoint customers as they try on footwear.

Individuals have been monitored snatching bags and wallets as customers are otherwise distracted or waiting for shoes.

Gardai believe the crimes as "entirely planned" and part of a "group operation".

A senior source explained: "These guys head in, see a customer looking away or trying on shoes and flee with their valuables within seconds."

The source added: "Unlike when you're outside, these thieves are targeting people who are off guard and often don't realise for several minutes their bags have been snatched."

Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson Niall Collins told the Herald that gardai are seeing the same individuals "day-in and day-out".

"Due to the chaos prevailing across the court service, the numbers brought before the courts for thefts and other offences are unsustainable.

"Gardai are seeing the same faces because they are not being dealt with effectively by the courts. Alan Shatter, the Justice Minister, needs to get his finger out and sort out the mess in the court system immediately," he added.

The blitz on shoe shop thieves is part of a wider crackdown on retail theft.

Some businesses in the city have estimated to have lost in the region of €1m as a result of theft incidents, sources say.

Richard Guiney, Chief Executive of the Dublin Business Improvement District (BIDS), told the Herald that a meeting of local retailers and gardai on the issue is scheduled to take place next week.

"This is a serious concern for businesses so we are meeting with officers in a bid to thrash out how we can make shops less vulnerable to thieves."

hnews@herald.ie


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