According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) there were 28,830 incidents of burglary reported in Ireland in 2015, which is a shocking figure.
This was an increase of 8.4% from the 26,589 burglaries reported from mid-2013 to mid-2014.
The rise in incidents of crime and burglaries throughout the country is having a serious effect on the people of Dublin Rathdown, whose proximity to the m50 has made it particularly vulnerable.
I have held two public meetings this year, where we have had insights from senior Garda representatives as well as crime experts such as Paul Williams.
In these meetings, we have heard countless stories from people who have had their homes burgled. It can be a terrifying experience for someone to go through, and it is not right that people should not feel safe in their own homes.
With this in mind, I have compiled a list of some of the common mistakes that burglars exploit in and around the home.
1. “Hiding” your spare key under a pot or a mat.
While it may seem like a good idea to hide your spare key in a place that you feel is secure but still accessible, think again – these criminals have more than likely rummaged through a lot of front gardens in their time, and are nothing but experienced in sniffing out hiding spaces.
A much safer option is by giving your spare key to your neighbour in the case of an emergency, and vice versa.
2. Not having photographic evidence of your valuables:
In speaking to the Gardai, they have informed me that year on year they recover items from thieves – and that they struggle to return them to their original owners. Your personal belongings like jewellery, electronic equipment etc should be photographed and important numbers kept on file.
3. Not having a system for keeping you home lit up:
During the winter months, with darker evenings and plenty of social gatherings, burglars look for opportunities to target homes that have no lights on – and it is something that many people overlook.
If possible, having a dimmer switch that is timed to come on when you are away from your home is a very useful deterrent to burglars.
An area that I feel could have a really positive impact in safeguarding your home against burglars is to sign up to a Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Having a collective network of people in your area that are looking out for suspicious activity is something that is currently underutilised, and at our public meetings the feedback from our speakers was that this was a really effective way of curtailing crime in your locality.
As a community, I feel that we can help each other greatly to ensure that everybody feels safe this Christmas.