Over the past week, there has been an upsurge in Garda activity in Dublin the wake of the recent public executions which shocked the country, while locally, Operation Thor saw Waterford Gardaí make 11 arrests on Wednesday last in the wake of a series of burglaries.
Major checkpoints were put in place at several locations in the city to combat house burglaries, and, as Detective Anthony Pettit put it on Friday last, constraining and preventing crime is a vital component of An Garda Síochána’s work.
In the past two years, suburban burglaries have increased, with cash and jewellery the main targets for thieves who have specifically targeted properties vacant during the working day or during religious ceremonies (baptisms, weddings, funerals). It is difficult to not know at least one person in Waterford city and county who has not suffered at the hands of burglars.
Garda had lacked resources to confront this challenge but it was heartening to learn in recent days that additional Gardaí, which we have campaigned for, are coming on stream, with some actively involved in last Wednesday’s Operation Thor operation.
Det Insp Pettit insisted that these checkpoints, as part of a larger scale operation, shall not be a once-off. He added: “We’re concentrating on the areas where crime is happening so we have extra people out on the ground. We’re concentrating on arrests, we’re concentrating on checkpoints in the areas to constrain and disrupt these people, and that’s ongoing.”
Heroin use and a rise in burglary levels have not been entirely unconnected, with addicts doing anything they can to feed an expensive habit.
Addiction is, unfortunately, a visible social ill on the streets of Waterford and right across the country, so the criminality issue is not exclusively bound-up by the nefarious activities of a small proportion of people living in or circulating around the city.
In recent weeks, we have learned that things have “quietened down” when it comes to some of Waterford’s most problematic residents, but storms are known to follow calms, as Waterford Gardaí would immediately refrain.
Lucinda Creighton’s ‘get tough’ stance on crime didn’t resonate with voters during the general election. and the brouhaha over the Special Criminal Court has come and gone – for now.
But crime is a huge problem in both rural and urban communities: take the spike in break-ins in Tramore for example in addition to the systematic level of burglaries the small mid-Tipperary village of Littleton has been subjected to. While parties squabble over grand coalitions or other such future arrangements, the public is seeking reassurance and leadership.
Thankfully, the matter that troubled Tramore has abated, with Det Insp Pettit confirming that burglaries in the town have actually fallen in spite of the woes of January. And while we have regularly noted the concerns of city centre retailers and residents about criminality being conducted in full public view, the introduction of a local Area Garda for the area has had a positive impact. But more help is required.
* If members of the public see any activity which they may view as suspicious, we would advise them to contact us immediately at Waterford Garda Station on 051-305300, Tramore (051-391620) and Dungarvan (058-48600). If it’s urgent, the 999 line is always available, while the Victim Support line at Ballybricken is 051-305370.