CRIME

Drug addicts went on 'spate' of car thefts in Laois during Covid-19 lockdown

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Spate of thefts from cars across Laois during Covid-19 lockdown

Spate of thefts from cars across Laois during Covid-19 lockdown

There was a lack of opportunity for addicts to steal from homes in Laois during the Covid-19 lockdown, as everyone abided by the regulations and stayed at home. 

Instead theft from vehicles increased, including work vehicles parked up for long periods of time.

New crime figures were given at the Joint Policing Committee meeting for Laois held on September 21.

In all property crime fell this year by 27%, but theft from cars rose by 167%, from six to 16 due to a “spate” by a passing group of drug addicts.

Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlon said the perpetrators of the car thefts were addicts.

“This was a group of individuals who swept through the place. They are addicted people whose crime is normally theft, they were deprived of houses. This was the last refuge for money for those with addiction issues. They did a spate of them travelling through the area. Vehicles were the last show in town where people had an opportunity for vulnerable items.

“I ask people to be cognisant not to leave valuables in cars, change, small sums of money, valuable items. Historically this happened where people go walking, but this incidence was more the lack of crime opportunities in other areas to feed their drug habit,” he said. 

Interfering with the Mechanism of a Vehicle rose 167% compared to the same period last year, January to September. It climbed from six crimes to 16. This crime was described by Garda Superintendent Anthony Petit as “most likely with the intention to steal”.

Theft from a vehicle rose by 14%, from 78 to 89 incidents. 

“These were cars parked up for long periods and commercial vehicles locked up and not in use,” he said.

In contrast, aggravated burglary dropped by 60% from five crimes to two. Burglary dropped by 29% from 143 to 101 incidents. Theft dropped by 25% from 154 to 116. Theft from a shop dropped by 39% from 259 to 157. Theft of bikes dropped by 22% from 27 to 21, and the unauthorised taking of a vehicle dropped by 30% from 37 to 26 incidents.