Garda blitz on burglaries and thefts brings positive results
GARDAI IN WICKLOW TARGETING PROLIFIC OFFENDERS IN A BID TO REDUCE PROPERTY CRIMES IN ALL THREE GARDA DIVISIONS BUT SOME CRIMES ARE STILL ON THE RISE. ESTHER HAYDEN REPORTS
THE majority of all types of property crime increased last year in Wicklow according to the latest figures.
Speaking at last week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Chief Superintendent John Quirke said that robbery of an establishment or institution was down by two incidents compared to 2016 while theft from a person was down by one incident.
Car thefts were down by five while thefts from shops were down by three incidents.
However, there were increases in all other thefts. Robbery from a person was up by three incidents, aggravated burglaries doubled from three in 2016 to six in 2017 while burglary increased by 61 from 635 incidents to 696 incidents.
Thefts from vehicles increased by 30 from 578 to 608 while theft of other property increased by 79 from 412 to 491. The theft of bikes also rose by 20 from 72 to 92.
In respect of robberies from establishments, Chief Superintendent Quirke said that, of the seven incidents, five occurred in the Bray division while the remaining two took place in the Wicklow division. There were no incidents in Baltinglass. This compares very favourable for Baltinglass where there had been three such robberies in 2016. Bray remained static while Wicklow increased by one.
However, despite the increase, he said that the detection rate for such crimes was on the rise with 57 per cent of the cases detected, compared to 44 per cent in 2016.
He said that the gardaí were still working on the other unsolved cases.
In respect of robberies from the person Chief Superintendent Quirke said that there were 19 cases in 2017; three were in the Baltinglass district, eleven were in Bray and five were in Wicklow.
The detection rate for 2017 was on a par with 2016 and stands at 26 per cent.
Chief Superintendent Quirke said the gardaí had carried out a bit of a blitz towards the end of 2017 which is something they had also done on 2016.
He said that there are generally more robberies in the lead up to Christmas and the blitz targets these.
There was a 100 per cent increase in aggravated burglaries in the county last year, with the figure rising from three to six. Three of these were in the Baltinglass area while there was one in Bray and two in Wicklow.
Chief Superintendent Quirke said that two of the six were solved while gardaí were still working on the remaining four.
In respect of the incidents in Baltinglass, which increased from one in 2016 to three in 2017, he said that many people are living in more isolated circumstances, adding that two of the robberies had targeted the homes of elderly people.
‘ This is something we are keen to tackle’, he said. ‘We have a number of initiatives in place and we have also started an older person’s register. We are confident that this will give increased security for elderly people, particularly those who are living in isolated areas.
Other burglaries were up 10 per cent from 635 to 696. Of these, 136 were in Baltinglass, 401 were in Bray and 159 were in Wicklow. Burglaries in Baltinglass and Bray were both up compared to 2016 with Baltinglass up by 47 (53 per cent) and Bray up 70 (21 per cent).
Burglaries in Wicklow, however, decreased from 215 to 159, a decrease of 26 per cent. The detection rate for burglaries dropped by four per cent to seven per cent.
Chief Superintendent Quirke said there had been a ‘very substantial’ decrease in burglaries in 2016. He said that last September when gardaí noticed a spike in burglaries, they established a number of new initiatives to tackle the problem.
He said they are targeting prolific offenders and have different gardaí assigned as case managers. They are constantly watching the offenders and, where possible, objecting to bail.
‘We are trying to get all the cases brought into court together so that it shows the judge that this person is a prolific offender.
‘We are also targeting criminal groups coming into Wicklow from outside the county. In January we had a big success stopping a gang from Ballyfermot.
‘Since October, burglaries are down 23 per cent and the figures for January 2018 show a decrease of 44 per cent on the same period last year.
‘ There were 118 burglaries in January 2017 and there were 48 in January 2018 which is a very significant reduction. January is always the worst month for burglaries,’ he said.
In respect of thefts from a person, there was a three per cent reduction countywise in 2017, dropping from 30 incidents in 2016 to 29 in 2017.
Of these three were in Baltinglass, 17 in Bray and nine in Wicklow. He said that the Wicklow division saw an increase of two incidents compared to 2016, adding that people were being targeted as they alighted buses and trains.
‘We have put measures in place to deal with this and Arklow now has approval for CCTV and we are hopeful of getting more,’ he said.
The detection rate for thefts from a person dipped from 27 per cent in 2016 to just seven per cent in 2017.
Thefts from vehicles were up 5 per cent or 30 incidents. Of the 608 incidents, 48 were in Baltinglass, 305 were in Bray and 255 were in Wicklow.
Baltinglass was the only district which saw a reduction in thefts from vehicles last year, dropping from 86 to 48. Both Bray and Wicklow increased by 13 and 14 per cent respectively.
Chief Superintendent Quirke said there was a change of pattern in such thefts. ‘In the past, a lot of these thefts occurred in tourist areas but there’s been a significant reduction in these places. Now thefts are taking place from vehicles parked in residential areas overnight.
‘We’ve changed our patrols to deal with this.’
He said that in many cases the people involved in the thefts are prolific offenders.
Thefts of other property are up 19 per cent, rising from 412 in 2016 to 491 in 2017.
Of these, 107 occurred in the Baltinglass area, 234 in Bray and 150 in Wicklow. He said the detection rate for 2017 for these crimes stands at 17 per cent.
Many of these thefts relate to drive-offs from service stations after getting fuel and Chief Superintendent Quirke said there had been a significant increase in such crimes last year.
‘In the last six months of 2017, there were 56 cases, mostly occurring at night.’
The theft of vehicles dropped by seven per cent from 74 in 2016 to 69 in 2017. Of these, 15 took place in Baltinglass which was the same as 2016; 34 took place in Bray, which again remained the same as 2016, while 20 took place in Wicklow – was a drop of five incidents compared to 2016.
He urged homeowners not to leave their keys near the front door to help prevent such crimes.
Thefts of bikes increased by 28 per cent, a rise of 20 cases from 72 in 2016 to 92 in 2016.
Of these, six were in Baltinglass (a drop of one), 65 were in Bray (an increase of 10) and 21 were in Wicklow (an increase of nine).
The detection rate in 2017 was 12 per cent, an increase of 2 per cent.
Chief Superintendent Quirke said that a lot of bikes were being stolen from bus and train stations around the county and the gardaí have increased patrols in these areas.
Thefts from shops were down one per cent, a drop of three from 510 to 507. Of these, 45 were in Baltinglass, 303 in Bray and 159 in Wicklow. There was a detection rate of 60 per cent, a drop of eight per cent.
He said that many of the thefts took place at the Bridgewater Shopping Centre in Arklow and chemist shops around the county.
He said that pharmacies were very vulnerable and thieves were targeting perfume and teeth whitening kits, which were high value items that were easy to sell on.
THERE WERE 118 BURGLARIES IN JANUARY 2017 AND THERE WERE 48 IN JANUARY2018, WHICH IS A SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION
The number of thefts from vehicles increased from 578 in 2016 to 608 last year.
There was a significant increase in the number of bicycles stolen and gardaí say that thieves appear to be targeting bus stops and train stations.
Chief Superintendent John Quirke.