Gardaí have warned women to be careful when withdrawing cash from ATMs and financial institutions in Cork City due to a high risk of robbery.
They believe a dedicated gang is targeting women at cash points.
In the attacks, a three-man gang follow the victims and rob them.
The warning was issued by Superintendent Barry McPolin, in charge of policing the city centre, after a number of similar robberies had recently increased in the area.
He said the gang reportedly watch people withdrawing cash, follow them, and then pounce when the opportunity arose.
Supt McPolin said that women in particular were being targeted, and they were being advised to take precautions to avoid being robbed.
He said in some cases, members of the gang were deliberately bumping into unsuspecting victims and rifling their bags before they knew what had happened.
It was also believed they follow them into shops and wait until the victim was distracted and, again, steal items such as cash, credit cards, and phones from their handbags.
“In the last number of weeks we have noticed an increased level of such crimes and we have increased the level of uniformed and plainclothes patrols in certain areas to combat it,” Supt McPolin said.
He said people should keep cash securely in their pockets and should withdraw only the minimal amount required.
Meanwhile, he said gardaí had recently noticed “a spike” in the number of expensive mobile phones being stolen from people in pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs in the city centre.
“The criminals are targeting expensive phones such Galaxies and iPhones and obviously they have a ready market to sell them off,” Supt McPolin said.
He advised people should also take precautions to ensure they were not robbed.
“Don’t leave your phone on view or in a handbag when you go into a bar,” said Supt McPolin. “If you are parted from your phone, then make sure somebody you trust is keeping an eye on it.”
Switching on a GPS app would help gardaí trace the mobile phone if it was stolen, he said.
“People should also note their IMEI phone number and other security codes associated with mobile phones and laptop computers,” said Supt McPolin. “This will help gardaí reunite the owner with the equipment should it be recovered after it is robbed.”
Meanwhile, Supt McPolin appealed to the public for help in tracing a laptop which was stolen from Holy Trinity Church on Fr Matthew Quay,
At approximately 8.20pm last Thursday, two women were seen entering the church and they are believed to have been responsible for stealing money from a Trócaire box.
It is believed they then entered the adjoining living quarters, where they stole the laptop.
“It was a silver-coloured Lenovo laptop and the information contained on it is of great value to the church,” said Supt McPolin.
He urged anybody who was offered a similar laptop at a knockdown price to immediately contact gardaí.
Anybody with information about it should ring their local garda station or Anglesea Street Garda Station at 021 452-2000.
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