New Longford garda offensive leads to arrests of car theft suspects

Operation Phoenix already paying dividends, says superintendent

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove


Jim Delaney

Supt Jim Delaney has hailed the successes of Operation Phoenix

Two major garda breakthroughs into car thefts and stolen property taken from parked vehicles has been attributed to a recently introduced offensive aimed at increasing police visibility along the streets of Longford town.

Operation Phoenix began at the behest of senior garda management last September in response to growing calls from local businesses and public representatives for greater garda visibility in order to counteract shoplifting, petty thefts and underpin public confidence.

Those efforts, the Leader can reveal, has seen more than 1,000 “proactive policing engagements” being recorded, ranging from patrols of Longford Train Station, retail premises and inspections of pubs as well as other liquor licensing establishments.

The most recent advances under those measures saw a Longford man being arrested and charged last week in connection to two separate thefts from cars in Longford town since the start of the new year.

A laptop and property of a Longford County Council staff member was reported missing last week, resulting in the alleged theft of a bag within which the electronic device was contained.

He was also charged in connection to a separate theft from a car, also in Longford town, less than 24 hours earlier during which a set of keys was taken.

Both incidents, gardaí believe, were successfully concluded on foot of the vital assistance of local businesses and retailers under the banner of Operation Phoenix.

“The genesis of Operation Phoenix was very much a multi agency approach towards focusing on the main street and improving life for the people of the town,” said Superintendent Jim Delaney this week.

“There has been a laptop recovered to the injured party affected and there was obviously a lot of crucial stuff on it as that person is employed by Longford County Council who are one of our closest partners and someone who we work hand in glove with.”

Superintendent Delaney said despite ongoing resource based challenges, he and senior garda personnel remained steadfast in their determination to continue with the operation as the county continues to deal with Level 5 lockdown restrictions.

“As far as we are able to man it,” said the Longford garda chief, when asked about the mid to long term future of the drive.

“Some of what we had lined up like business watch and pharmacy watch has had to take a back seat due to Covid because a lot of those premises are unfortunately closed at the minute, but we will continue to ensure public safety is maintained and protected.

Superintendent Delaney also told of how Operation Phoenix had played a pivotal role in the successful arrest of a male suspect in connection to the theft of a car along Longford’s Park Road earlier this month alongside that of a break in of a private residence on the county town’s Main Street last October.