Burglaries across Laois have risen by almost 60% in the past 12 months with the majority of these hitting rural areas hardest.
The shocking figure was announced at this week’s Joint Policing Committee meeting in Laois County Hall, where Superintendent Anthony Pettit revealed that burglary is up from 67 to 106 (58.2%) from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of this year.
Cllr John King asked were these burglaries more common in rural areas or towns, to which Chief Superintendent John Scanlon replied that the greater number of burglaries were happening in rural areas.
He revealed that burglaries in Portlaoise town have dropped from 120 to 96 for the year, with the overall increase caused by crimes in the rural areas.
“Some criminals are in prison for a time and when they get out some have not mended their ways and go back to robbing,” he said.
He said that one criminal group had been responsible for 20 burglaries across the county in one day, with some of these criminals from Dublin. He asked local communities to be aware and take photos of suspicious vehicles, or take a note of the licence plate.
“Evidence is the only way we can operate and to gather evidence we need the assistance of communities,” he said.
Regarding rural crime and an increase in burglaries over the last few weeks which Chief Supt Scanlon said was attributable in some cases to “serious criminals” being back on the scene after being released from jail, he spoke of the new task force set up to tackle rural crime.
There are eight gardaí in the unit, five from Portlaoise and three from Offaly, whose job it is to go out and find these criminals and respond to nighttime crimes.
“We have men and women out there trying to stop these people every night of the week,” he said, adding that one criminal opened fire on the gardaí the previous week. He also said that a number of gardaí had been injured last year.