Around 3,000 suspected cases of money being stolen from parking meters have been recorded in Dublin City in the past three years.
The city council has confirmed it has received an average of three reports daily of interference with a parking meter since 2013.
The local authority also revealed it has spent €3.57m on repairs and maintenance to the equipment over the same period. There are over 1,000 parking meters in the area controlled by Dublin City Council.
The frequency of damage to the machines has led gardaí to believe the stealing of cash from the meters is being done on an organised basis.
City Council chief executive Owen Keegan said the reports of interference with parking meters involved incidents of vandalism, attempts to jam the coin slot, attempted robberies and robberies.
Mr Keegan said gardaí at local and senior level had been fully briefed on the issue on a regular basis.
“A number of covert operations have been carried out successfully with numerous arrests and convictions,” he said, in a report prepared for Independent councillor Mannix Flynn.
Some perpetrators have also been ordered to pay compensation to the council as repairs to meters in some cases can cost up to €7,000.
Mr Keegan said a number of other cases are also due to come before the courts.
However, the council has refused to provide details about the location of damaged meters and the amount of money stolen from them on the basis it “could reasonably be expected to prejudice or impair the prevention of offences and the security of property”.
Mr Flynn said yesterday it was unacceptable the council was failing to provide a detailed report about the scale of the problem.
“I’m very concerned about the under-reporting of this theft which is probably costing thousands of euro each year,” said Mr Flynn.
“Criminals are using parking meters as cashpoints and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. These thefts are consistent but are certainly not random and seem to be organised.”
Parking costs up to €2.90 per hour in high-demand zones. The council collects about €2m from meters each month.
In 2012, gardaí set up an operation to catch a Romanian gang suspected of stealing coins from parking meters in the city after it was estimated they had netted close to €100,000 by unlocking meters and ‘skimming’ the contents.
Detectives believed the culprits only took a fraction of the money in the meters to avoid arousing suspicion. The nature of the crime only came to the attention of gardaí after information about suspected tampering of parking meters was collated into a single database.
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