The Irish Times view on burglaries: on the decline
Figures for the past two years show the number of these crimes more than halved, compared to 2011 and 2012
Figures for the past two years show the number of these crimes more than halved, compared to 2011 and 2012, reflecting the benefits of tightly focused and intelligence-led policing practices. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Credit where it is due. Members of the Garda Síochána have done a good job responding to planned burglaries and related offences, particularly those involving Dublin-based gangs that brought violent assaults and fear to rural Ireland. Figures for the past two years show the number of these crimes more than halved, compared to 2011 and 2012, reflecting the benefits of tightly focused and intelligence-led policing practices.
A list of burglary gangs, based on their extensive activities, was drawn up last autumn under the direction of Assistant Commissioner for Special Crime Operations John O’Driscoll. Then, using surveillance and intelligence gathering, gang members were intercepted and arrested. At times, this involved motorway chases and stolen cars. In some instances, individuals were arrested more than 50 times. A rise in the number of burglaries, early last year, was followed by intense police activity, higher detection rates and further arrests. This resulted in a 40 per cent fall in such crimes during the following six months.
The establishment of Operation Thor in 2015, in response to an increase in the number of violent burglaries by city-based gangs, represented a turning point in policing activity. Since then, intensive surveillance has led to the arrest of a large number of criminals and the seizure of high-powered cars involved in crime. Because many of those arrested were serial offenders, bail applications were opposed to restrict their early return to criminal activity.
There is a tendency to exaggerate the extent of these crimes, adding to public alarm and feelings of vulnerability among elderly people living alone. It doesn’t help. Violent assaults and robberies do take place, generating fear and outrage. But these are not confined to rural areas. There, the most common offences involve the theft of machinery, livestock and fuel. The fact remains that the majority of burglaries, including those involving threats, assaults and worse, take place in urban settings. Any future allocation of police resources should reflect that reality.