Car theft is at a seven year high with gardaí warning that thieves are particularly targeting specific types of Japanese car imports.
Senior gardaí say specific makes and models imported from the Asian market are being stolen because they are not fitted with an immobiliser.
They stopped short of identifying the exact car types in order to protect car dealers and car owners from being even more targeted.
However, they advised anyone who owns a Japanese import to consider fitting old-style steering wheel locks to secure their vehicles.
Japanese imports have been steadily increasing in recent years, particularly as the flow of cars from Britain has slowed.
The warning was issued at a meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) which heard that last month saw the most reported car thefts in a single month since October 2015.
The JPC was told that in the Cork City garda division alone, there has been a 164% increase in reported car thefts - from 59 to 156 - between January and May 2022 compared to the same period last year.
There has been a staggering 328% increase in reported cases of interfering with a vehicle with intent to steal an item or a vehicle - up from 18 to 77 - in the first five months of this year, compared to the same period last year.
Chief Supt Tom Myers stressed that while Ireland was in lockdown for a significant portion of the first half of last year and reported crime rates dropped, the increase in these specific categories of property crime post-lockdown is of concern.
Crime prevention officer, Sgt Brian McSweeney, said gardaí in Cork analysed the car theft figures earlier in the year and noticed a trend that a particular type of car is being taken.
“We raised it nationally to see if it was just a Cork problem or was it a national problem,” he said. "The garda analysis service took a look at the problem from a national perspective and found that May 2022 saw the most incidents reported in a single month since October 2015 of cars taken nationally."
Sgt Sweeney said it became clear that specific makes, imported from the Asian market without immobilisers fitted, are being targeted.
Of the 156 vehicles reported stolen in the Cork city garda division so far this year, 30 were Asian imports without immoblisers.
Sgt McSweeney said a specific garda operation has been mounted to target those involved in these car thefts and there have been a number of arrests of criminals in such cars in recent weeks.
But he urged car dealers, car buyers, and especially the owners of these cars to be aware of the issue.
The rise in these specific car-related crime categories comes in the context of an overall 76% increase in property crime in the garda division in the first five months of this year. Overall crimes against the person have also increased 62%, with a 95% surge in the number of reported assaults causing harm, up from 66 to 129.
Chief Supt Myers said however that notwithstanding these increases, the trends are in line with pre-lockdown rates.
He also moved to reject claims that people are afraid to visit or socialise in the city centre in light of violent brawls there in recent weeks.
There were calls at the JPC to open a garda station in a vacant coffee pod to address the problem.
Chief Supt Myers said: "I don’t see what people are afraid of. Obviously there are incidents that are not reported but I think the city is in a good place at the moment."