Burglaries rise sharply as criminals target Dublin's commuter counties


BURGLARIES INCREASED by as much as 40 per cent in some parts of the Republic last year, an analysis of the latest crime figures shows.

The data shows that while the rate of increase in such break-ins was 8 per cent nationally last year, trends significantly varied when data from each Garda division was examined.

For example, in the Meath division breaking and entering robberies increased by 40 per cent in the year under review, but in the four divisions in the western region, the trends were down by as much as 15 per cent.

While the Dublin metropolitan southern division recorded the most burglaries last year – 2,374 cases – trends were down by 1 per cent compared to the previous year.

As expected, burglary rates across the six Garda divisions in Dublin were highest, although the increase in the crime in those areas last year was largely lower than in the regions.

Dublin has the biggest concentration of population in the country and with some of the Republic’s worst poverty blackspots and rates of drug addiction, it is expected that house break-ins would be higher there than anywhere else in the State.

Of the six divisions in the capital, Dublin north central – covering the north inner city and a small number of inner suburbs – recorded the lowest rate of burglaries in the capital; 1,027 cases, up 4 per cent on the previous year.

Only a handful of divisions outside Dublin recorded higher burglary rates than that last year. These included Kildare, Wicklow, Meath and Limerick.

Garda sources said they were not surprised by the fact that after the Dublin divisions, the next worst-affected areas were those regions beside the capital.

“The way development has gone down the years, big parts of places like Meath, Wicklow and Kildare are now what you could call suburbs of Dublin, so what you see happening in Dublin in terms of crime, you would expect to see in those places too,” said one source.

“Burglaries in Dublin went up the past few years and it looks like the other areas close by are now playing catch up.”

Another source said: “A lot of the burglaries in these places are carried out by locals, but there’s no doubt that criminals from Dublin are travelling out a bit and hitting houses in counties closest to Dublin.” The trends last year in the Meath division would appear to offer the most cause of concern. Last year there were 1,212 burglaries, up 40 per cent on 2010.

The next biggest increase nationally was in the Sligo-Leitrim division, where a 30 per cent increase was recorded last year; albeit off a relatively low base of 289 cases in 2010.

Also bordering Dublin, the Kildare division saw 1,687 burglaries last year, up a significant 26 per cent.

That frequency and increase in the crime was high by national standards, with Kildare recording more such break-ins than any other Garda division outside the Dublin area. The rate of burglaries in the Kildare division was higher than three of the six Garda divisions.

Of the 28 Garda divisions (see map) burglaries increased last year in 20.

The divisional breakdown for breaking and entering rates was calculated using figures in the recently released Central Statistics Office national crime data for 2011.

The burglary rates bucked the trend for overall crime patterns nationally, with the majority of crime types having fallen last year and in recent years since the recession started.

Gardaí believe overall crime trends are down as binge drinking in public places and recreational drugs use has decreased because people have less disposable income. A lot of crime is believed to be linked to drink and drug consumption.

Gardaí believe burglaries have increased as criminals seek items that they can sell easily to make money in the recession.

The increased price of gold on the world market has also led to the proliferation of cash-for-gold outlets nationally. Garda sources say while most of these outlets are run responsibly, they believe a smaller number are being used by burglars to quickly sell stolen gold jewellery for significant sums.

Gardaí believe this new outlet for burglars wishing to sell stolen gold has led to some increasing the number of burglaries they carry out where they specifically target jewellery for quick resale.