A senior garda says the era of leaving car doors unlocked at night — even in country areas — is over after a weekend spree saw as many as four cars stolen and items taken from 35 vehicles.
The thefts occurred over a period of little more than 24 hours last weekend and involved vehicles in Bandon, Clonakilty and, in one instance, Bantry.
The thefts took place in the early hours of last Saturday and Sunday and gardaí are investigating a possible link to cars being interfered with in the Cork City suburbs of Ballincollig and Togher at the end of last week.
Gardaí said all but one of the vehicles entered illegally last weekend were unlocked and they appealed to motorists to take extra care.
Supt Brendan Fogarty of Bandon gardaí said that of the 35 vehicles broken into over the two nights last weekend, 21 were in the Clonakilty area and 14 were in the Bandon division from estates in Belgooly and Riverstick.
In addition, four vehicles were taken — two from the Lady’s Cross estate on the edge of Clonakilty, and one each from Bandon and Bantry. While gardaí are not definitely linking all four thefts to the spate of robberies from cars, it’s understood the cars taken from Clonakilty and Bandon areas were likely to have been the work of the same gang. It emerged that one of the vehicles, stolen from the Bandon area, has since been recovered in Cork City. Gardaí from West Cork are collaborating with their counterparts in the city as they investigate the thefts.
Supt Fogarty said: “It’s a lot of thefts from vehicles in a short period. We have had nothing like this in the last couple of years.”
He said criminal gangs are increasingly mobile and the era of leaving cars unlocked outside the front door is over, adding that gardaí are appealing to motorists to take “common sense” steps: “We ask that cars are secured at night time, that they’re parked in well-lit locations and that no property is visible inside them.”
It’s understood that in many cases small sums of cash were taken from the vehicles, which will be harder to trace or recover.
Supt Fogarty said: “I would ask that if anyone noticed any suspicious people or vehicles around Clonakilty, Belgooly or Riverstick on Sunday night into Monday morning, to contact us at any Garda station. Any cars or taxis who were driving in those areas with dash cams we would also like to hear from you.”