Targeted operations lead to ‘major reduction’ in crime

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THE head of the Limerick garda division has said that large seizures of drugs and the targeting of known burglars are just some of the reasons why there has been a “major reduction” in crime locally.

THE head of the Limerick garda division has said that large seizures of drugs and the targeting of known burglars are just some of the reasons why there has been a “major reduction” in crime locally.

Chief superintendent David Sheahan said that a fall in year-on-year crime figures in the second quarter of 2012 is the result of targeted garda operations across the city and county.

He was speaking at a meeting of Limerick’s joint policing committee at County Hall in Dooradoyle last Friday, where the latest crime statistics were welcomed by local politicians.

In the second quarter of 2012 property crime was down 18%, with 876 offences compared to 1,065 this time last year. Chief Supt Sheahan said that as well as a general reduction, key indicators such as burglaries (down 34%) and car thefts (down 30%) had also fallen.

An 84% drop in incidences of robbery from the person is down to “key players [being] identified and taken out of commission”, chief supt Sheahan added.

He said that there were four aggravated burglaries in the second quarter of 2012, the same as this time last year, including a number of “barbaric incidents” in East Limerick, for which he offered sympathy to the victims on behalf of the gardai.

Chief supt Sheahan added that while thefts from the person are down from 27 to 23, thieves are continuing to target people with smart phones. He said that a five per cent increase in thefts from shops was due to the “massive spiral” during school holidays when “children have time on their hands”.

Chief Supt Sheahan said that while thefts from vehicles are down from 168 to 161, thieves are continuing to travel out from Limerick city to target several cars parked outside churches and sports fixtures in rural areas.

Crimes against the person are down 48% in total, with noted drops in assaults causing harm (down 73%, from 49 to 13), harassment (down 92%) and threatening to murder (down from 20 to three). There were four reported incidences of rape (up 33%), nine cases of sexual assault (down 36%) and two incidences of child cruelty.

Criminal damage and public order offences across Limerick are down 41%, while drugs and weapons offences are down 36%.

There were 24 detections of possession of drugs for sale or supply, a 50% drop year-on-year. Chief Supt Sheahan attributed this to “major hauls” higher up the supply chain, which resulted in fewer drugs making it to street dealers.

He also welcomed a 35% fall in drink driving detections, pointing to a national downward trend which proves the old drink driving culture “is well and truly broken”.

Cllr James Collins welcomed the fall in crime as a “positive story” for Limerick, while Cllr Leo Walsh praised the role of community alert schemes.

Cllr Stephen Keary called for the committee to endorse a plan for monitored CCTV in Rathkeale, something which chief supt Sheahan admitted is “long overdue”. However, chief supt Sheahan added that all the gardai can do is endorse the proposal and “hope money will be available in future”.

Cllr Damien Riedy called for a similar scheme in Newcastle West, which Niall Collins TD said should be monitored on a 24 hour basis at Henry Street garda station.