Sergeant John Connolly, crime prevention officer for Westmeath, has this week outlined his concerns regarding thefts from vehicles.
“I have compared the month of May 2016 with May 2017 and there is cause for concern,” he said.
“I have done a brief analysis for the public on the locations, times and types of items being taken.
“For example in relation to items taken, handbags (5), tools (4) and mobile phones (4) were all targeted, and cash and a laptop made up the rest of the incidents.
“The locations are interesting in that the majority which the criminals targeted were housing estates (9 incidents from such estates).
The remaining vulnerable locations were church car parks, hotel car parks and leisure areas (walking or lake parking areas) where thefts occur.
“I also found that statistically, almost a half of the thefts involved vehicles being left open.
“This is worrying for us because it tends show that the public have a perception that they can be negligent by not locking their cars when they leave them in their driveways at home.
“An Garda Síochána are conscious of the fact that criminals going into housing estates can have a choice of numerous cars to check on depending on the estate size. To counteract this Westmeath gardaí are now performing traffic stops in estates as well as plain clothes patrols.
“The times of thefts from vehicles again coincide with housing estates and cars left open, as eight of the thefts occurred between 10pm and 6am.
“I would make one final point and that is that there are career criminals out there who specifically target cars and can smash a window easily if they see something of value.
In relation to preventing thefts from cars, Sgt Connolly offered the following advice to the public:”
1) Lock your cars, whether in your driveway or elsewhere
2) Park in a location with good natural surveillance (busy place) or electronic surveillance
3) Do not leave items visible or covered over on seats
4) If you do not need your laptop or other expensive equipment in your car, leave it securely at home
5) Report suspicious activity
6) Use lit up areas
7) Be conscious of taking your items from your car to your boot before walking away
8) Double check that your car is locked before walking away from it. Don’t always depend solely on the remote control feature.
For further advice contact the local community policing unit or Sgt John Connolly at 044 9384000.
Also garda.ie has good advice on this type of theft.