| 16.7°C Dublin

We will win war on violent pickpockets, say gardai, as 200 arrests made in blitz

MORE than 200 street thugs have been arrested as part of a major clampdown on the capital's street crime epidemic, the Herald can reveal.

Operation Aughrim was launched in June to target the main players behind the crime- wave that has resulted in a spate of pickpockets and muggings across the capital in recent months.

And the most senior officer at the forefront of the garda crackdown today exclusively reveals how undercover officers have launched a blitz on street thieves.

In an interview with the Herald, Detective Inspector Michael Cryan admits that the crime epidemic is being partly run by "fluid, innovative and highly organised criminals".

But the leading garda has insisted that the war on street criminals will be won.

"We are encountering a lot of what can be described as professional, career criminals. They are more innovative, more organised, more fluid and more international than criminals of old. That in itself poses challenges to gardai," he said.

"There is no doubt that we have seen a major rise in pickpockets and other types of thefts against the person over the summer months.

"However we are determined to stamp out this type of crime and are doing that through Operation Aughrim," he added.

Det Insp Cryan, who is based at Pearse Street Garda Station, is overseeing the running of the operation, which was launched this summer.


The Operation involves a number of specific methods that members of the force have adopted to crack the crimewave.

One element involves swamping 'black spot' areas in the city centre with up to 20 undercover officers at a time, particularly on weekends.

Gardai are also closely monitoring suspected thieves and building up "intelligence-based profiles" on key main players.

Raids are then launched on these suspects once a significant body of evidence has been built up.

Senior officers in Pearse Street and Store Street are also constantly updating detailed maps of the city which are focused exclusively on areas blighted by street crime.

Another element of Operation Aughrim has seen a special focus given to combating muggings and assaults during the hours of 2-5am.

Det Insp Cryan confirmed that more than 200 suspected thieves have been arrested since the plan was launched in June.

"What we do is identify the worst-affected areas and swamp that area with plainclothes at the peak times," he said. "Each week, I look at where the majority of the thefts have taken place and often revise what areas should be focused on.

"Aughrim is very adaptable and it is about ensuring that the most affected areas are properly policed. It is very much intelligence-led and allows us to establish who the main players are behind the rise in pickpockets."

He added: "We have a dedicated control every week and we analyse exactly where the crime is taking place. When we pinpoint these problem areas, we can then ensure that there are plenty of officers policing them.

"Operation Aughrim has been a huge success and we have ensured that a lot of the main players have been brought before the courts, and often, deported if they are of foreign origin.

"Some of the main players have been found by gardai in Cork and Galway because they left Dublin after being caught as part of the operation."