Farmers in Co Tipperary ‘go on armed patrols at night’

Man whose farm was broken into says people in rural areas terrified in their homes

Farmers feel like prisoners in their own homes, according to a farmer from Co Tipperary whose property has been repeatedly broken into. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times/Files

Farmers feel like prisoners in their own homes, according to a farmer from Co Tipperary whose property has been repeatedly broken into. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times/Files

 

A man whose farm has been broken into six times has said farmers in Co Tipperary have started going on armed patrols at night amid fears of rural burglaries.

Clive Clarke, from Moneygal, Co Tipperary, said people are terrified in their own homes and many residents of rural areas are approaching breaking point.

His farm was most recently broken into on Tuesday when raiders stole quad bikes, trailers and other items from his shed.

“People are angry and terrified. I don’t mean just afraid I mean terrified. It’s not a question of if it’s going to happen to somebody it’s a question of when. It seems like no level of security is good enough,” he said.

Burglars have targeted his farm half a dozen times in the past 13 years. “The first one and the last one have been the worst,” he said, adding that the most recent raid will cost him about €13,000.

“It’s not just me,” he continued. “There were two more farmers locally that night. There were three more the previous Tuesday.”

“It’s only in the last week or more that it’s getting serious and it seems to be very targeted. The same type of tools and equipment are being taken in every place. I would imagine it’s the same people doing it.”

He said he holds out little hope of getting his quad bike back. “Personally I think it’s in a container on the way out of the country. The smaller tools, I don’t know where they are. The robbers will grind off the serial numbers and they’ll find somebody somewhere to buy them.”

He said the attacks have had a very negative effect on the community and people are now much more on edge. “I wouldn’t like to be a stranger going into somebody’s yard. I suppose you could divide the people into two even groups at the moment. Half the people are so terrified that they hide in the house. The other half are hiding outside waiting for someone to come.”

Earlier, while speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Clarke said farmers have started going on night patrols to protect their homes. “In our area and in several other areas farmers are going on armed patrols at night. There’s licensed firearms holders actually patrolling areas of the countryside at night because they’re in such fear,” he said.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has called on the incoming government to introduce more severe sentencing for repeat offenders in an attempt to tackle perceptions of rising crime rates in rural areas.

Earlier this year, IFA deputy president Tim O’Leary said the issue of crime and security was having a detrimental impact on rural culture.

“It’s almost unacceptable now to arrive after dark into a strange house and to arrive at houses that are locked,” he said.

“That’s such a change in rural Ireland’s society in the last 10 years. There is a requirement for government to give a reassurance to people that this is being addressed.”