ONLY one quarter of all burglaries are solved by gardaí, a senior garda admitted this week in Portlaoise.
The shocking statistic was revealed at this week’s Portlaoise Joint Policing Committee meeting in County Hall, where Superintendent John Moloney told Portlaoise town councillors that burglary is up by 30 per cent from last year.
The Tullamore superintendent, who is standing in because Portlaoise has no supt at present, told the meeting that there have been 85 burglaries this year so far. He said burglary is the most difficult crime to solve due to the “sneaky” nature of the culprits.
“We get to solve about a quarter of all burglaries. It’s a sneaky crime and the robbers are in and out in a flash. In the main, the people responsible are itinerant criminals and drug dealers, although Eastern Europeans are involved a bit,” he said.
The superintendent told the meeting that a recent garda operation of check points to disrupt travelling criminals had resulted in 13 straight days without a burglary and he said the operation would continue to run in rural areas of the county.
Cllr Matthew Keegan remarked that house break-ins are a really serious issue, as they can leave injured parties with trauma which can last for years.
Cllr Alan Hand praised community policing units as “a great resource” and recommended that people inform gardaí of any vacant houses in their area, which may be targeted by burglars. His Sinn Fein colleague, Cllr Caroline Dwane said she knew of an incident three weeks ago where a single mother at home with her three young children was woken up by three men attempting to break into her house with a pitchfork.
“People are afraid of what they’re going to come home to,” remarked Cllr Willie Aird.
Garda Inspector Martin Harrington told the meeting that most burglaries are committed when houses are empty, with the robbers ransacking the home in a couple of minutes before fleeing. Inspector Harrington said travelling criminals may hit three of four houses in one area and then they’re gone. The inspector went on to say that a large percentage of burglaries in Portlaoise town are committed not by travelling criminals but local people, with the same criminals well known to the gardaí committing repeat offences.
Garda Sergeant Tom Walton said the gardaí need the public’s involvement to curb the rise in burglaries.
“Any little small gem of information would help us,” said Sgt Walton.