Incidents of stealing from cars and vans rocketed by 250% in the first month of the year, the latest crime figures show.
Theft from vehicles jumped from eight to 28 in a comparison with last year while burglary was down by 26% to 29 and shoplifting had dropped by a quarter to 21 detections.
Some 275 fewer motorists were detected for speeding, which may in part be explained by the lack of a Garda speed van.
Superintendent Sean Glynn told the quarterly County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) the Garda ‘Gatso’ van was off the road due to repairs needed and would not be returning due to the cost. Speed vans operated by a private company were still present on Galway’s roads.
He said following the surge in car thefts, the Gardaí would send their crime prevention office to talk with people in charge of GAA Clubs, graveyards and community centres to urge those who attended to be more careful about security and not leave valuables visible.
Cllr Joe Byrne (FG) asked was it possible to despatch speed vans to the entrances of towns and villages where speeding was causing local residents to live in fear of their lives. Tubber Road in Gort, Kilcolgan and the Ballyvaughan side of Kinvara were two locations where speed vans or patrol cars should be despatched.
“I’d like to see an improved presence of squad cars at the approach to towns and villages to make sure local people realise they could get caught. It’s primarily local people who are speeding.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Healy said in other jurisdictions, fixed speed cameras were erected when there had been three fatalities at a location.
Independent Cllr Seosamh Ó Cualáin criticised the decision not to return the ‘Gatso’ van. He added that the Gardaí had a hard-enough time detecting drunk drivers, never mind ones speeding.
“I read a court case recently where a drunk driver was involved in a fatality and didn’t get prison. How the judge cam to that is up to him but I can’t understand how. This case involved two members of Garda Síochána being injured. The Gardaí are doing their best to detect but are badly let down by the judiciary.”
Fellow Independent James Charity said courts had to take into account mitigating circumstances. He found the car thefts very concerning.
He had learned recently that the number of motorists unable to get insurance quotes had jumped from 53 in 2008 to 1,191 last year – an increase in the order of 1,200%.
Other figures from January show there were 17 motorists detected for driving drunk – up by five compared to 2017. The number of minor assaults jumped by six to 25 while public order offences decreased by four to 20.