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Gangs target pupils' Haiti disaster cash

SCHOOLS have been warned to be on the lookout for thieves intent on stealing money raised for victims of the Haiti disaster.

Gardai issued the warning to principals in north County Dublin after a spate of robberies in the area.

The revelation was made at a police forum meeting held at Fingal County Council's offices in Blanchardstown.

Thousands of euro has been collected by pupils in fundraising events the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean country.

Labour's Joan Burton, who was at the police forum, said officers have had to visit schools to give them advice about "how to have better security for the cash or faster lodgments".

"One of the issues raised by one of the gardai was that schools have been really enthusiastic and generous in raising money," the Dublin West TD said.

However, gardai have had to give advice because there were fears about "holding money on the premises".

"Over the last year in the Dublin 15 area, there has been a spate of house burglaries ranging from the Castleknock area up to Huntstown, Hartstown and up into Ongar," Ms Burton said.


She added: "Gardai were saying there are an awful lot more opportunist thieves and burglars out there at the moment and that is partly as a consequence of the financial situation.

"People really have to be careful and cautious that they don't leave windows open."

Ms Burton said the officers were talking about primary schools in particular as "children have been really enthusiastic about doing fundraisers for Haiti".

Her party colleague Tommy Broughan, who was also at the meeting, said the warnings were issued to principals in the Balbriggan area, including Rush, Lusk and Skerries. He said it followed a spate of robberies.

Earlier this month, Mr Broughan asked Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to review the allocation of garda resources for Dublin North East.

"The latest crime figures released from the CSO highlight the massive increase in burglaries including a 23pc increase in robbery, extortion and hijacking offences for example in the last quarter of 2009 as compared to 2008," he said.