THE head of the Limerick garda division is appealing to homeowners across the city to properly secure their homes at night following a spate of burglaries and break-in over the past three months.
According to Chief Supt David Sheahan, there were 278 burglaries in the city during December, January and February.
This represents an increase of 64 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.
There was also an increase in the number of aggravated burglaries during the same period.
Chief Supt Sheahan said the increase in burglaries can be attributed to several groups of teenagers who have been “running riot” across the city since the end of last year.
“It has, in the main, been caused by two or three groupings of younger people between the ages of 13 and 18 who have literally ran riot around the city for no other reason then to take the keys of cars and then to literally steal the cars,” he said.
However, Chief Supt Sheahan told a meeting of the Limerick City Joint Policing Committee that the number of break-ins so far this month has reduced following a successful garda operation, which saw more than 30 arrests being made.
“During the month of February, there were 37 people arrested in respect of that particular type of crime alone which is a fairly big proportion of people in a city the size of Limerick,” he said.
“As a result of those arrests and people being brought before the courts there has certainly been a decrease in that level of activity,” he added.
Most of those who were arrested are each suspected of involvement in several break-ins over the past few months.
Members of the policing committee, which is chaired by Cllr Michael Hourigan, welcomed the garda response to the increase in burglaries.
“The increase in burglaries is a huge issue and we have to look at it as a priority,” said Cllr Maurice Quinlivan.
Chief Supt Sheahan said homeowners needs to be vigilant in order to protect their property.
“I would say to people you just can’t be circumspect in bringing in your keys and leaving them at the back door or on the latch or on the hall-table as has been done heretofore because your car will be gone in the morning. I would ask people to change their habits and to bring their keys upstairs with them to the bedroom at night” he said.
Supt Frank O’Brien of Henry Street Garda Station agreed that people have to take some responsibility by properly securing their homes.
“In a lot of cases, the levels of security at homes leaves a lot to be desired and I would urge people to secure their premises and to be a little bit more creative about where they leave their keys,” he said.