AN emergency meeting has been called in a Meath village following a wave of crime, including a spate of home burglaries and car thefts.
Concerned residents in Ratoath have reported dozens of robberies over recent weeks with cash, jewellery, electronics and cars all snatched by opportunistic criminals.
Thieves have even posed as officials from Irish Water to gain access to homes across the area where water meters were being installed.
Cllr Nick Cillian, who has called Tuesday evening's emergency meeting, said that on one occasion thieves had donned high-visibility jackets in an effort to gain access to homes in the Steeplechase estate in the village.
"I got a call to say that people had dressed up in yellow bibs and had called at a number of houses pretending to be from Irish Water. They weren't from Irish Water at all.
"They called in the evening time. They had waited until Irish Water officials, who had been in the estate, had gone home. And I know this has gone on in other locations around the country," he told the Herald.
He described the criminal activity as "opportunistic" and said a lot of the robberies were down to people not locking doors or leaving windows open when they have left for the day.
He added the crime had been "across the board" with no particular groups being singled out.
Next Tuesday night's emergency meeting in the Ratoath Inn will address the problem with the county crime prevention officer Sgt Dean Kerins also due to speak on the night.
Ratoath has a population of around 14,000 but does not have a garda station and is covered by officers in Ashbourne, some 10km away, who carry out routine patrols in the area.
However some residents say there isn't a strong enough garda presence in the village.
One resident, Dave O'Donnell from Kilbride Road in Ratoath, said the lack of gardai had resulted in rural areas around Ratoath becoming "an easy target" for thieves and also noted an increase in anti-social behaviour, including joyriding on roads around the village.
A spokesperson for Irish Water last night said the agency is working closely with gardai during the water meter installation process and advised that officials will always carry identification and will never need to enter a home.