Household burglaries in Cork City and county have risen by 40% in recent months compared to the same period last year.
And gangs are getting easy pickings from the large number of people who do not lock their cars at night.
Figures released by gardaí at a meeting of the Cork City and county joint policing committee (JPC) show there were 324 burglaries reported in the last three months of 2017, which was up from 225 in the comparable period in 2016. Thefts from vehicles rose from 144 to 202.
Chief Superintendent Ger Dillane said gangs of young men were swarming into estates after dark and stealing valuables from unlocked cars. He said the gangs were looking for cash, satnavs, laptops, power tools, and other valuables which people were leaving in unlocked vehicles. He said there has been a wave of these thefts since the beginning of December.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said estates in Blarney, Douglas, Carrigaline, and Glanmire have been hit in recent weeks and gardaí are targeting the gang responsible.
While he said there were some “homegrown” gangs, the region was also being hit by Dublin-based criminals who were coming down the motorway in high-powered getaway cars.
Chief Supt Dillane said these vehicles do not register as suspect because they have cloned registration plates which match the make and colour of ones for cars owned by law-abiding people.
One of these cars used by a Dublin gang was seen in Cork one morning and within hours was involved in burglaries in Donegal. By the time it reached the county, it had different registration plates attached — again cloned from another vehicle of the same make and colour.
Gardaí believe the gang members worked in two different shifts.
“It’s always going to be an ongoing battle with the Dublin gangs,” said Chief Supt McPolin.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn, chairman of the JPC, said a lot of communities are concerned about the rise in burglaries.
Chief Supt Dillane told him the gangs were careful not to leave any forensic evidence and usually wore gloves and balaclavas, so it was essential for gardaí to catch them at the scene.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said people should immediately report any suspicious activity, no matter how trivial they think it is because gardaí need to catch the gangs.
He said gardaí run a number of text-alert systems for communities whereby warnings are issued about the movements of suspicious vehicles.
He urged more members of the public to sign up to these.
The JPC also heard that the upturn in the economy is leading to more incidents of drunkenness and night-time assaults.
Assaults causing harm rose from 112 to 119 during the comparable periods, while minor assaults jumped from 312 to 353.
Chief Supt Dillane said serious car crashes and material-damage-only car crashes are up, probably because there are more people working.
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