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Feet on the beat is only way to beat the burglars

Gardaí living and working in rural areas was one of the most effective ways of targeting burglars, a Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting has been told.

This comes as local representatives warned that fears of ‘marauding gangs’ remained high in rural communities across the county, despite a reduction in the number of home raids reported to gardaí.

Figures provided to the JPC showed a 20% decline in the number of burglaries reported in the first three months of 2024, down to 72 compared to 90 between January and March last year.

And while these figures were heading in the right direction, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche said homes in isolated rural areas remained a target for thieves.

The Garda Chief said a major operation had been organised to tackle the problem and collaboration between gardaí in the western region and in Dublin was being used as a means of clamping down on travelling gangs.

“Burglary throughout the county is well down on where it was last year. Key to this is keeping gardaí in local areas, and keeping them living in the local area,” said Chief Supt Roche.

The Galway division had a number of properties available to accommodate gardaí in areas in the east of the county, and out west in places like Carna and Indreabhán, he continued.

“It’s very beneficial to have local guards living in an area,” said Chief Supt Roche.

Cllr Pete Roche (FG) said there was a general sense that burglaries were down.

“People feel there seems to have been a lot less of the marauding gangs patrolling East Galway,” he said.

However, Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) said while the figures showed a reduction, “there is a huge amount of fear out there”.

Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind Ire) called for the rollout of additional CCTV cameras to tackle the problem.

“I am a great believer that one of the most important things in catching these people is vehicle recognition cameras on the motorways.

“Is that ever going to happen?,” he asked. “They are in situ going from the South into the North of Ireland.”

Chief Supt Roche said there were GDPR issues with cameras but new legislation was addressing some of those problems, adding that it was now up to An Garda Síochána and local authorities to make business cases for the installation of cameras.

“We need a joined-up approach with the City and County Councils.

“A community impact statement has to be done on the cameras. The North is different – it has Home Office security which follows terrorism attacks and so on. It’s a very different situation,” he said.

Cllr Andrew Reddington (FG) reiterated previous calls for controls on those who can print licence plates, as thieves often used false number plates in committing their crimes.

Chief Supt Roche said there was no legislation governing the printing of licence plates but said thieves “steal number plates off other cars regularly”.

“It’s a criminal activity,” he said.

Pictured: Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche….burglaries down.

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