Burglary rates have increased by nearly a fifth across the State since a 2007 low. But more than three-quarters of the increase has come in Dublin, despite charges that rural Ireland is bearing the brunt of a crime epidemic.
The six Garda divisions in the capital, according to an analysis of Central Statistic Office figures, together account for 82 per cent of the increase in burglaries nationally in the eight-year period to the end of last year.
The number of burglaries in west Dublin jumped to 2,297 last year, compared with 1,360 in 2007 – a 69 per cent rise, while the Garda’s east Dublin district reported a 60 per cent jump.
Laois-Offaly suffered 1,066 burglaries last year, up from 655 in 2007, which supports charges that Dublin-based criminals are using the motorways to carry out attacks farther afield.
Speaking yesterday at an event organised by Crimestoppers, Garda Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne, who leads the specialist Garda units, said the force was very "attuned" to the public's concern about rising burglary trends.
Saying he would never try to tell the public their chances of being burgled were much lower than their fears suggested, Mr Byrne said: “It would be very difficult to put that proposition to the victim of a crime – extremely difficult.”
“The victims have an entitlement to cry out, and they have cried out and we’re attuned to that,” he said.
In 2007 burglaries reached their lowest point of the last decade, with 23,052 offences recorded across the State. However, the figure had increased to 26,666 burglaries; exactly 3,614 more offences recorded than in 2007.
During the same period, the number of burglaries in the six Dublin divisions increased by 2,957.
The continued increase in the burglary rate nationally is emerging as a political issue as next year’s general election approaches.
Last week Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald announced the allocation of an additional €5.3 million for the Garda to purchase 260 new vehicles; some of them high-powered and to be used to combat burglary gangs travelling around the country.
The changing burglary patterns between 2007 and 2014 were determined by The Irish Times via an analysis of the crime figures published by the Central Statistics Office.
The CSO has expressed concern about the accuracy of Garda crime figures generally. However, it resumed publishing the data earlier this year but said it was working to refine crime counting and classification procedures.
However, burglary rates have fallen in the last eight years in 10 of the 28 Garda divisions across the country. Mayo enjoyed the largest reduction, with numbers dropping by a third.
In the Clare division – also one of the most rural and remote areas – the burglary rate fell by 20 per cent during the same period. Incidence of the crime also declined in Cavan-Monaghan, by 21 per cent.
On the opposite end of the scale, the highest rate of increase was 69 per cent in the Dublin Metropolitan Region West division, where 1,360 crimes were recorded in 2007, increasing to 2,297 last year.
The Laois-Offaly division had the second highest increase since 2007, at 63 per cent.