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Charity helps 812 tourists 
hit by crime

A TOTAL of 812 tourists were assisted by a charitable service after they became the victim of a theft or an attack here last year.

The Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS), which assists visitors to Ireland who have been the victims of crime, has dealt with over 7,500 cases involving 13,000 tourists to date.

Beneficiaries of assistance from the service which is run by staff and volunteers who speak a variety of languages, have come from 50 different countries.

ANXIOUS

Founded in 1994 to offer immediate support to anxious tourists, the nationwide organisation will celebrate the work it has done over the past two decades at an event today in Dublin's Guinness Storehouse.

"Over the past 20 years 86pc of tourists who received assistance from ITAS continued with their holiday plans," ITAS chairman Martin Holohan said.

"This is an excellent indicator of the positive role the service plays in managing negative experiences. We are very proud of what ITAS has achieved to date."

The facility, which is the only dedicated service in Europe offering specialist assistance to tourist victims of crime, recently came to the aid of American tourist Joe Sheehan who was robbed after rescuing a man from the Liffey.

The 20-year-old student from Nebraska had just arrived in Dublin on July 19 when he saw the man get into trouble in the river and dived in.

The trained lifeguard took his valuables out of his pockets and jumped into the water.

He helped the man to safety, only to be told his Samsung Galaxy as well as his wallet containing €100 and £40 sterling had been stolen.

Three good samaritans took him to the ITAS in Store Street Garda station, before later treating him to a night out in the capital.

broken

The 2013 ITAS Annual Report recorded an increase in the number of tourists seeking assistance from the service, the majority seeking help after being the victims of theft.

This can range from having handbags stolen to having cars broken into, particularly where items were left visible.

ITAS statistics show that crimes are most likely to occur when tourists let their guard down when they are sightseeing, shopping and generally relaxing in restaurants and cafes while on holidays.

The majority of people ITAS assist tend to be female aged between 17-25 years and have been victims in Dublin city centre between 2-6pm.

hnews@herald.ie


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