A Galway mother whose home has been broken into four times in as many months has taken to arming herself with a nailgun to protect her family.
Noreen Hopkins and her family are about to move into a cottage near Milltown that she and her husband have spent the past eight months renovating. During that period the house has been repeatedly burgled and stripped of materials from copper piping to personal items.
The young mother has resorted to staying in the house overnight, armed with a nail gun, to protect her property.
She was one of a number of people who addressed a public meeting on crime held in Tuam this week, organised by local Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney.
“Everything you could imagine has been taken from our home, which is an old cottage that has needed extensive renovation over the past year or so,” she said.
“After the first incident I was so distraught I immediately phoned the gardaí but their response has been so unsatisfactory I didn’t bother reporting the most recent burglary which happened about three weeks ago.
“They’ve told me there is nothing I can do other than remain on the property to protect it, so that is what I did. I was terrified but it was the only time in all of this that I haven’t felt completely helpless and that I was doing something to protect my home and my family.”
Noreen said while she agreed rural Garda stations needed to be reopened to address increased crime levels, a major change of culture was needed within the force to regain confidence among the public.
“One Garda told me my best option was to remain in the house because while it was vacant it was likely to be robbed again.
“Another said if I was to arm myself and remain in the house I would have to give a warning shot before I aimed a gun at an intruder and, as terrible as it sounds, I was prepared to use the nail gun had someone tried to break in.
“Every passing car and van had me on tenterhooks until the morning and I knew I was safe.”
Noreen is hoping the strong turnout at the Tuam meeting from local people will send a clear message to both the gardaí and local politicians that more effective policing is urgently needed in the area.
“People are genuinely living in fear, it’s not just the elderly. It doesn’t matter what age you are or whether you’re rich or poor, everyone is a target. I would like to know that what has happened to me is a priority for the gardaí who will find those responsible and bring them to justice.”
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