Increase in burglaries driven by recession

Thefts of personal belongings and home burglaries have jumped as the effects of the recession deepen, new statistics show.

While murders, shootings and kidnappings are down, other gangland crimes have risen, with an almost doubling in bomb attacks and cash-in-transit robberies and hikes in threats of murder and importation and cultivation of drugs.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter expressed concern at the rise in property crime, as well as a jump in fraud offences, and said the garda commissioner was targeting serial burglars.

But the minister expressed satisfaction with a drop in the majority of crime categories, including homicides, assaults, dangerous driving, robberies, drugs, gun crime and public order offences.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office for the full year of 2011 show a drop in 11 of the 14 main crime categories, with increases in just three.

Statistics for the latter categories show:

* Burglaries jumped 8%, from 25,420 in 2010 to 27,439 in 2011;

* Thefts rose marginally from 76,829 to 76,924; 

* Fraud offences rose 6%, from 4,996 to 5,311.

The figures show that while the total number of drug offences was down (-11%), importation of drugs jumped (+41%), and cultivation of drugs, such as cannabis grow-houses, continued to rise (+8%).

Similarly, while the total number of robberies dropped (-9%), there was a massive rise in cash-in-transit raids (+81%), as criminal gangs refocused their attention on security vans.

Likewise, there was a 15% drop in weapons offences, including shootings and cases of gun possession, but there was a rise in explosive offences (up 97%).

Other individual crimes that saw an increase include threats of murder (+10%), prostitution offences (+20%) and endangering other people with serious injury or death (+80%).

The figures show significant reductions in the number of homicide offences, down 29% from 89 in 2010 to 63 in 2011. This includes a fall in murders, from 53 to 39.

There were falls in the number of kidnappings (-22%), dangerous driving and negligent acts (-18%), criminal damage offences (-9%) and public disorder (-11%).

“While some categories of property crime are up, the overall trend shows a decrease in most types of crime, including homicide, assault, criminal damage and drug and public order offences,” said Mr Shatter.

“Taken together this overall decrease represents a substantial achievement for law enforcement and crime prevention in Ireland.”

Mr Shatter said he was pleased with the downward trend in dangerous driving and drink-driving offences.

He warned people to ensure that personal belongings were not susceptible to theft. He said gardaí were focusing on patterns of burglaries and crime “hot spots”.



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