LIMERICK farmers are already feeling the brunt of a rural crime epidemic with fertilizer, tools and diesel being regularly stolen - but now there are reports of an increase in trespassing.
A delegation from Limerick IFA met Sergeant Justin McCarthy, crime prevention officer, in Henry Street this week after the issue was raised by members.
Denis Griffin, IFA regional development officer, says the intruders are involved in illegal hare coursing and “have no respect at all” for landowners.
While it is a problem across the county numerous reports have been received in Bruree, Banogue and Croom.
“They have been asked by farmers to leave and they refuse to leave. People feel very intimidated by them. They are running their dogs and frightened cattle have broken through fences and wires. They don’t care about animal welfare and a hare could be left to die on the side of the road,” said Denis, who adds that the IFA believe that it is also an excuse to have a look around the farm to see what could be stolen at a later date.
Shay Galvin, a farmer who lives in Croom, said it is a widespread problem and some farmers are “petrified”.
“If you challenge them they take no notice. You feel intimidated on your own land and that is coming from a youngish fellow, not to mind an oldish fellow,” said Shay, whose family have been affected too.
“It was my daughter’s fourth birthday, I wasn’t there as we were sowing corn. There was five of them in the field outside of our house and the hare was torn up.
“She was upset for a week after it and my other two children were upset too - it is something that no child should have to witness. Because I wasn’t there I couldn’t identify them or move them on,” said Shay.
Following the meeting with gardai, Denis urged farmers to report trespassers with dogs on their land to the authorities, take vehicle registration numbers and photographs but, “Don’t put yourself in danger”.
“They can arrive on at any time during daylight hours. It is expected to get worse over the winter. They are taking no notice of anyone and could be there for an hour to three or four hours,” said Denis.
Sergeant Justin McCarthy said a number of laws are being broken including trespass, animal cruelty and breaches of the Wildlife Act.
“It is important that all these incidents are reported to the gardai - even if they have left the property,” said Sgt McCarthy, who called on the public to be vigilant.
“Throughout rural County Limerick there are numerous Community Alert and text alert schemes and it was down to the vigilance of the local population in Doon that arrests were made two weeks ago,” said the sergeant.