Criminals targeting female tourists

Young female tourists shopping and sightseeing during the day are the main targets of criminals, figures show.

They showed 690 tourists were assisted last year by the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS), compared to 620 in 2010.

The figures show that the number of violent crimes rose from nine in 2010 to 15 in 2011. These included six assaults, three cases of aggravated theft, three cases of robbery with violence, and one case each of sexual crimes, robbery at gunpoint, and robbery with threat of violence.

Thefts accounted for 88% of crimes, with theft of the person making up most of the offences.

The ITAS annual report, published yesterday, shows that the 690 tourists were referred to the voluntary agency last year.

They were involved in 394 cases, with some cases involving couples or families.

Of the 690 people, 223 (32%) were aged between 17 and 25, with the report noting that this age group had “little or no resources to fall back on in emergency situations”.

The next age group, 26-35, was the next largest category.

The report also found that 15 children under the age of 10 and 23 children aged between 10 and 16 were victims of crime.

Almost 60% of victims were female, rising to 69% in the vulnerable 17-25 age group. Of the 394 incidents, 70 (18%) occurred between 2pm and 6pm, with 48 (12%) occurring between 10am and 2pm.

Dublin accounted for 80% of cases, followed by Wicklow (12 cases), Galway (10), Cork (nine) and Louth (six).

“Crimes tended to occur when tourists were sightseeing, shopping and generally relaxing in restaurants and cafes,” said the report.

“The majority of crimes referred to the service occurred between 2pm-6pm in Dublin City centre. The victims tended to be female aged between 17-25.”

More than 40 nationalities were assisted by the service, with US nationals making up the largest number (90), followed by French (87), German and Spanish (both 81), and British (63).

The main items stolen from tourists were credit cards, passports, and cash.

“Ireland is one of only two countries in Europe that has a designated tourist assistance service,” said chairman Dick Bourke.

“Tourists have specific needs in the aftermath of crime. Only with the support of the industry can these needs be met, ensuring tourists return home with an overall positive impression of Ireland.”

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said: “Thanks to the efforts of An Garda Síochána, the level of crime against tourists remains extremely low in Ireland and Ireland continues to be one of the safer tourist destinations.”

* ITAS can be contacted 1890 365 700


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