A sharp rise in theft in Portlaoise gave rise to a public warning by Garda Superintendent Yvonne Lundon to be careful whilst Christmas shopping, particularly when putting purchases in cars.
Thefts from cars, shops and people during the September to November period, were 45 percent higher than the same time last year. That number was also 45 percent higher than the June to August period.
Criminal damage likewise took a hike, up by 35 percent.
Supt Lundon says theft and criminal damage figures are linked.
“The criminal damage is happening when people are breaking into cars, and items are being taken from back seats and boots. I would ask people again, not to keep items on display in cars,” she said at the Portlaoise public Joint Policing committee meeting last Tuesday December 3.
She says much of the crime is happening in shopping centre carparks.
“Customers are putting bags into boots, then getting distracted by people. I urge caution especially at Christmas. Be very careful when being approached by strangers. They are there to deprive you of your property,” she said.
There was good news too, as the number of assaults and burglaries in Portlaoise fell by 19 percent over the past three months, a fall of 7 percent compared to 2012.
There were 22 assaults, a drop of 41 percent, from September to the end of November.
There is a 17 percent decrease in house burglaries.
Supt Lundon credited both the Gardaí and the public.
“There are increased patrols, excellent investigative work has been done, and the public are taking care with lights, locking doors, etc,” she said.