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Vigilante groups join forces to beat the burglars as raids rocket

DUBLIN has been blitzed by a "burglary epidemic" with the number of homes targeted reaching unprecedented levels.Garda stations throughout the capital and surrounding areas have reported sharp rises in burglaries in recent weeks.





The Herald can reveal that some communities are so gripped by fear that they have formed their own groups to monitor estates at night. And sources have revealed that the nature of some burglaries have left gardai shocked.



In one recent case, callous thieves ransacked a pensioner's home, even slashing open her mattress in a bid to find her savings.



"In parts of the country, burglaries have become an epidemic and a real problem in communities," a source explained.

In one recent case, callous thieves ransacked a pensioner's home, even slashing open her mattress in a bid to find her savings.

Thieves are now calling at the doors of unsuspecting families during the evening time to check if anybody is at home, the Herald has learned.

Residents in estates throughout the capital are on high alert with panic spreading that burglaries are getting out of control.

Gardai in Lucan in West Dublin were forced to call in extra officers to deal with 16 separate burglary calls over a two-week period.

Thousands of euro worth of goods -- including cars, laptops, sat nav systems, ipods and jewellery -- has been taken from homes across the city in the last few weeks.

The Herald reported last week that burglaries and other theft-related offences were one of just two serious crime areas to have risen dramatically.

While there has been a sharp fall in the numbers of murders and assaults, the Central Statistic Office (CSO) revealed an 8pc increase in burglaries.

The rise means up to 100,000 people have been hit by burglaries and related offences.

Meanwhile, communities across the country are resorting to extreme measures in a bid to fend off burglars.



Meeting

Residents in Balbriggan have discussed the option of forming a 'vigilante'-type group where people take shifts in keeping watch for potential criminals.

The town has been hit by a spate of burglaries in recent weeks, which culminated in elderly couple in Hampton Cove having their home raided.

Over 300 residents attended a meeting in Balbriggan's Bracken Court Hotel in a bid to discuss a community response.

Michael Blount, who organised the meeting, told the Herald families are "panic stricken" by the level of burglaries.

"We as a community are determined to make sure our families and neighbours feel safe in their homes. At the moment, the level of crime and burglaries is simply out of control," he said.

"We want to maintain a presence in our estates and streets to make Balbriggan safe. The protection of our homes and our children is our priority."

Sally Hanlon, Director of Support After Crime Services, today told the Herald that the burglary stories being told to her staff are "disturbing".

"We've seen a significant rise in the number of people calling us distressed about having their homes burgled or belongings stolen. The emotional impact of having your home raided, where strangers come in and destroy your personal belongings -- it's horrendous.

"The level of violation leaves people scarred for months and even years. We had a case recently where a pensioner had her entire life savings stolen.

"And we're also seeing that burglars are far more aggressive.

"In one incident, a woman's mattress was ripped apart in search for money."

hnews@herald.ie


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