Burglaries in Portlaoise have increased nearly three fold for the last three months, according to Garda figures which were given at the recent Portlaoise Joint Policing Committee meeting.
There were 45 burglary offences recorded in Portlaoise during the months from December last year to the end of February 2012, an increase of 265% from the preceeding three months figure of 17. Mayor of Portlaoise Matthew Keegan said that the rise in burglaries was “most on peoples’ minds” in the town. “It strikes panic in a whole housing estate when one house is broken into. But there are good relations between the community and the Gardaí”, said Mayor Keegan.
He asked Gardaí if they were happy with the resources they have at the moment. He also asked that especially in the case of older people, if Gardaí would contact them to follow up on incidents if their house was broken into. “Even if there hasn’t been a conviction it is a comfort to old people to know” he said.
Sergeant Tom Walton said that Gardaí “are happy with the resources we have at the moment and we are dealing with every incident”. He appealed to the public that if anybody ever witnessed anything to get in touch with the local Gardaí. “House burglaries are the hardest crime to detect and we would appeal to witnesses - even the smallest bit of information can help us”.
Sgt Walton told those present at the meeting that people are “indiscriminate in relation to how they break into houses now”. He said that burglars are breaking into houses during the day and in early evening, not just at night time. “People are in their houses and are disturbed by burglars. Three of the victims over the past three months were over 80 years old”. He added that all victims are contacted afterwards by Gardai, especially the elderly who can be “traumatised”.
Councillor Caroline Dwane told the meeting that she had heard of several houses being broken into on the Mountmellick and Ballyfin Roads. “It is rampant at the moment and vunerable people are a target”. Councillor Kathleen O’ Brien also said that she was concerned with how the elderly are targeted. “Some people are living in fear, I would ask people to be very vigilant”.