Shopflifting rates in Longford are becoming so prevalent crimes against individuals, homes and businesses are being investigated by gardai every day of the week, the Leader can reveal.
New figures taken from the Gardai’s own internal Pulse computer system and from the CSO has, for the first time, underlined just how severe everyday thefts has become.
Rising drug use, spiralling unemployment levels and the increasing presence of organised crime gangs are just three of the main root causes behind its continuing upsurge.
It is even believed that some people are jetting in from abroad with the sole intention of stealing to order.
“It’s getting worse. Just before Christmas we stopped two fellas who had walked out with €634 worth of stuff,” said one of the security guards who asked for his name not to be printed.
“When the guards searched them they each had a box device no bigger than a cigarette packet which they pressed once they reached the gate to scramble the alarm system.
“These aren’t your everyday jacks, these guys are organised.”
A follow up garda investigation found the two suspects had flown into Dublin just days earlier, booked into a hotel and rented a car ahead of their attempted shoplifting spree.
It’s not just larger retail chains however that have been feeling the brunt of sophisticated crime factions.
Adarsh Puri, of local boutique, Le Monde Fashions, opened his first business in Longford 28 years ago.
He said despite investing heavily in his own security system, shoplifting is a still a major issue for him.
“People will still try,” he said. He then outlined specifically an attempted theft at his store last Christmas.
“A lady came in looking and she took a few garments for changing. I was serving another customer and obviously she saw that I was busy and soon after she left.
“I saw on the camera she had six garments and two hangers in the shop were empty. When I went outside she was gone, but within five minutes I saw her on the other side of the street and followed her. I grabbed the bag from her and she started to cry.”
It is estimated that around €250m worth of goods being taken annually from Irish stores.
“Shoplifting is a scourge but it’s the sole traders and independent outlets I feel sorry for,” said Longford Shopping Centre Manager Jim Behan.
“Especially the places that mightn’t have the manpower or resources we might have.
“More so, there is a growing willingness by shoplifters to physically threaten shopkeepers to more or less prevent you from stopping them. My heart goes out to those people.”