Robin Hoods of Longford: Tongue-in-cheek thieves pave way for free parking

Cllr Flaherty calls for town-wide CCTV network for Longford

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Robin Hood and his Merry Men have left their mark on Longford parking metres after using a drill to break the locking mechanism on up to eight machines and stealing the coins from within. The gang then scrawled a note to motorists saying 'Free parking today' before making their way to the next metre.

This stealing from the council to give to the community attitude has prompted local councillor Joe Flaherty to call for a town-wide CCTV system for Longford to avoid situations like these in the future.

The gang specifically targeted metres that were out of sight of existing CCTV cameras, avoiding capture.

"It's an especially mindless theft because the proceeds will have been small," said Cllr Flaherty.

"Perhaps no more than a couple of hundred euro - but it will take at least €500 to replace each of the locking mechanisms so a total cost to the council of €4,000 approximately."

The angry councillor touted the act another instance of the mindless and low-level crime that could be policed if an effective CCTV system was operational in the town.

"The approval is in place for the extension to the Garda station in the town and I know local Garda management, my Council colleagues and Council officials have been pushing hard for an upgraded CCTV system.

"The process is moving far too slowly and a memorandum that deals with data protection issues was finally signed off by Garda HQ in July," added Cllr Flaherty.

"We are seeing early benefits of good CCTV coverage and the planned €2m extension for the local station includes a dedicated command centre. This gives local Gardai the opportunity to monitor a suite of cameras  and hone in, in the most  effective manner possible, on these low-level crimes and anti-social behaviour."

The Councillor is adamant that a state-of-the-art CCTV then enables the Gardaí to focus resources and time on major crimes.

"It is effective policing and a 'win-win' situation for the Gardai but also the community and business owners," Cllr Flaherty concluded.