THe number of cars being stolen in Limerick has fallen significantly as a direct result of a major garda crackdown.
Operation Alloy was launched at the beginning of the year in response to figures which showed there was a major increase in car-thefts in Limerick last year.
The head of the Limerick garda division, Chief Supt David Sheahan, says the operation is having an effect.
“Operation Alloy is a very focussed policing intervention by the gardai where we target known people who are involved in the stealing of cars,” he said.
The garda crackdown is largely focussed on the city and suburbs where the majority of cars are stolen.
Supt Frank O’Brien, Henry Street and Supt Dan Keane, Roxboro Road, are working closely and both have allocated significant resources to Operation Alloy within their respective districts.
Reported crime statistics from the Central Statistics Office show that 805 cars were reported stolen in Limerick last year.
Chief Supt Sheahan says provisional figures show the number of cars stolen is down by a third so far this year.
“In the year-to-date, we have seen a reduction of 33% - that is a reduction from 430 cars to 287 in the first seven months (compared to 2011),” he said.
While some cars stolen by criminal elements are used in the commission of other offences such as robberies, most are stolen by teenagers or young men for, so called, joyriding.
The majority are either crashed or burned out and while the culprits may be caught it is the owners of the cars who are left counting the cost.
While pointing out there has been a significant reduction in car thefts, Chief Supt Sheahan says more needs to be done.
“Certainly, there has been a major reduction and I would like to thank all of those who have given us assistance in respect of that because it is an area that we buck the trend,” he said adding that the number of reported car thefts in Limerick still accounts for more than half of all car thefts in the Southern region.
“We are higher than the national average but that kind of reduction bodes well for the strategies that we are employing in respect of that area,” he said.