Christmas shoppers have been advised to take care of their belongings this year as figures show €400,000 worth of goods were stolen from retail car parks last year.
Gardaí said theft incidents were most common on Tuesdays and Fridays between noon and 6pm, with the numbers rising in December. Most of the thefts, which had an average cost of €600 to the victim, were avoidable with cash, electronics, tools and handbags the most frequently targeted goods.
A retail safety day was announced on Thursday by gardaí, who said that, on average, 50 retail car park thefts took place each month in 2015.
"Customers should be careful while shopping," said Sgt Kelvin Courtney of the Garda Bureau of Community Engagement Unit. "Always park in well-lit and secure areas. When you leave your car, lock all doors and windows and double check to make sure. Don't leave property or cash on view, take it with you. Report all thefts and suspicious activities to staff or gardaí.
“We strongly encourage shoppers to engage in safe parking as over 50 incidents of theft from vehicles at retail car parks occur every month.”
Sgt Courtney also said people need to be vigiilant while shopping because figures show more than 100 thefts from customers take place in shops each month.
“Handbags are being targeted when left in trolleys or hanging on buggies. The handbag itself isn’t always the item that is taken, sometimes objects within the handbag are targeted too and often they are not immediately noticed missing by the owner. Mobile phones are the most commonly stolen object,” he said.
The Garda Analysis Service also said shoplifting at Christmas time last year cost retailers €55 million, while the overall loss in 2015 was €255 million.
The busiest time for thefts from shops are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with almost two thirds occurring between 12pm and 6pm.
Sgt Courtney said: “It’s important for retailers to be reminded that theft from shops tend to increase from mid November until Christmas.
“The four main items stolen from retailers are groceries, alcohol, clothing and cosmetics. It is noticeable that thefts from clothes stores increase sharply just before Christmas and we also see a considerable increase of thefts from pharmacies, largely involving cosmetic thefts, throughout November and December.
An Garda Síocána has produced safety information packs for customers and retailers, both are available from the Garda website.