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The crooks' new secret weapon...a €20 jammer that cripples house alarms

This is the device -- no bigger than a packet of cigarettes -- that's helping to fuel an epidemic of burglaries.

Thieves are buying the hi-tech jamming devices -- capable of disabling house alarms -- for just €20 on the internet.

Security experts warned today that the 'jammers' make it extremely easy to carry out house break-ins.

Gardai and communities are on high alert after it emerged the jammers, disguised as cigarette boxes, are now readily accessible.

Officers are grappling to deal with the advanced technology that sources say is becoming more and more popular among thieves.

The jammer has the power to intercept alarm signals -- making them completely useless.

One jamming device seized by gardai had the power to block monitored alarm systems throughout an entire estate.

The Herald can reveal that the technology is available across the internet for as little as €20.

One website is selling devices which it says can block "all GPS" from a "30-feet radius".

One of the site's "best-selling" jamming device is disguised in a Marlboro red cigarette pack. It is on sale for around €45.

Security experts have warned that the situation is about to worsen, with enterprising burglars buying the technology for as little as €50 from internet vendors.


Derek Mooney, managing director of Alarm Control 24, said today that any GSM alarm system could be rendered useless by jammers.

He told the Herald: "GSM-based systems can be made completely useless by thieves that have equipped themselves with this technology. That means that 90pc of alarms in Ireland can be targeted in this way. These devices can be purchased online from as little as €20 and we believe the purchase of them is on the rise."

Mr Mooney, whose company has developed a long-range radio-based alarm monitoring system to counter these jamming devices, said that as a result of current legislation, many State buildings are vulnerable to the GSM jammers.

He told the Herald: "Legislation prescribes the use of fundamentally flawed GSM systems and must be changed to ensure that State buildings are adequately protected."

It was revealed on Monday that gardai have significantly increased their efforts in a bid to deal with a burglary "epidemic" that has hit the city in recent months.

In the capital, detectives have identified 60 men who are responsible for the bulk of break-ins.

In the past 10 days, 30 of them have been arrested and many are already before the courts, in Operation Acer.

Nationwide, around 300 burglars are being targeted by gardai with Operation Fiacla.