Burglaries from Longford Town Council-owned housing have already exceeded the entire total of 2012 in the first two and half months of 2013.
Just six burglaries took place in 2012 from council-owned properties in the urban area, but inside the first six weeks of this year, that figure has risen to six. Copper piping and cylinders were the principle target for thieves, with Springlawn estate favoured more than any other, with five of the seven this year taking place there.
Speaking at the Town Council’s recent Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting, council housing official Suzanne Duffy said the local authority was seeking the gardai’s assistance in providing a greater presence in some of the estates, “particularly Springlawn”, she said
Supt Denis Shields said gardai are taking special measures to combat the rise in copper thefts and stolen metal trade.
“Between 2008 and 2012, the price of copper has gone from €3,000 per tonne to to €6,000 per tonne. The plan that was launched (against copper theft) is being done in conjunction with farming organisations, ESB, Irish Rail, Irish rural associations, as well as the Department of Environment.
“It creates a number of various obligations on those that take in metal to undertake to try and reduce it. It’s a problem all over the country, not just in Longford,” said Supt Shields.
He said that burglaries are a major concern for gardai.
“In the Longford, you’re talking about approximately 200 incidents per annum. That’s 14 percent up on the rolling year (March ‘12 to March ‘13), 19 percent down on the calender year (from Jan 1 to mid March).”
He said theft from shops has decreased in the past year by 43 percent, and other types of thefts are up 12 percent in the same period.
“Thefts of metal and cash continue to be the main target for criminals. This is our biggest problem at the minute. Crimes statistics in this district can be measured by the number of recidivist criminals that are here in the area.
“Of the five districts that are in this division, the other four districts, their crime statistics are dictated by travelling criminals – criminals that travel from place to place, not to misunderstand that from any other word. Here in Longford, it’s local. That’s the difference. Most of our burglaries are urban-centred,” said Supt Shields.
He said fraud and deception offences have increased in recent years, like cheques being issued and services not being provided.
“If you promise to provide a service and you don’t provide the services, it’s a criminal offence,” he said, referring to a recent change in legislation. “If you advertise a service and you take money for it, and don’t provide the service, and it’s done through a deception or deceit, that’s a criminal offence,” he explained.
Speaking about the burglaries, Supt Shields said, “Vacant houses are a continual target for thieves for copper. We can’t get away from that and it’s certainly a major focus on what we’re working on at the moment.”