Garda chief warns holidaymakers not to alert thieves to their absence

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley

Galway holidaymakers who are jetting off this summer have been warned to be careful about posting ‘selfies’ and other photographs on social media – for fear of alerting burglars to their absence.

The warning came after new figures showed a 17% spike in burglaries so far this year in the county.

The city and county’s top Garda said people going on holidays are at greater risk of being burgled, and shouldn’t advertise it on social media on the internet.

Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley agreed at the latest County Galway Joint Policing Committee meeting that “far too much information is being shared on social media”.

Chief Supt Curley said criminals are “very clever and intelligent” and they will use whatever information is uploaded to social media to inform their illegal activity.

He said the same was true of big occasions such as funerals and weddings – criminals were monitoring when homes would be empty.

“That’s where neighbours come in; and where there is a need for vigilance,” he said. Text Alert schemes and Community Watch also help, he said.

Chief Supt Curley was responding to comments made by Fianna Fáil County Councillor, Mary Hoade, who noted that rural burglaries had increased by 17% in the first quarter of 2017.

Cllr Hoade said a current craze of people heading off to Lanzarote or New York and other places on holidays, is to post photographs of themselves at the airport to Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.

“They need to be careful about the information they are putting up on social media,” she said.

Fine Gael Cllr Peter Roche said tradespeople and everyday gardeners also need to keep their tools locked up to guard against opportunistic thieves.

He cited an incident recently near Abbeyknockmoy where a rural mechanic had a shed-load of tools stolen, including one item that cost €1,300.

Chief Supt Curley’s quarterly crime report to the meeting revealed there had been a 17% increase in burglaries in county Galway in the first four months of the year.

There were 16 more burglaries between January and February of this year, compared with last year; rising from 93 to 109 incidents.

“We’d a couple of spikes (in burglaries) in Loughrea in particular but Superintendent Sean Glynn has made inroads and I can’t say more about it because many of those will be before the courts,” said Chief Supt Curley.

Overall, crime in the county has fallen by 22% or 501 fewer incidents. The Garda report noted some 1,769 crimes were reported up to the end of April compared with 2,270 in the same period last year.

Thefts from vehicles fell by 33% to 46 incidents; thefts from person were down by one incident to three; and other thefts were down 5% to 104 incidents.

In response to Cllr Frank Kearney, Chief Supt Curley said there was no discernible trend or reason for the 24% increase in thefts from shops, which had increased by 13 incidents to 68.

Some shops had improved the CCTV technology, he said, which made it easier to detect.

However, there was no evidence of gangs travelling from outside the county targeting shops for theft in an organised manner, he added.