Eoghan Dalton Reports
Jewellers and perfume sellers are most in danger of being targeted by thieves during the festive period, according to Waterford Gardaí.
Addressing Waterford City & County Council’s Joint Policing Committee, Gardaí said there is always a spike in theft from shops at Christmas but that it tends to be focused on luxury items.
Waterford District Superintendent Chris Delaney said the pattern of activity is easy to identify: “It’s clear the criminals are targeting high-volume items and premises with a low level of security. Prolific items are still perfumes, cosmetics, clothing,” he said.
Speaking about robberies generally, he said it’s doubtful thieves are travelling from other counties into Waterford. “[There’s] no point blaming people coming in from outside, in these cases the people are most likely our own, unfortunately.”
Speaking to The Munster Express, several Waterford retailers said the claim came as no surprise. Manager of Inglots in City Square, Natasha Kiely noted there were large quantities of cosmetics being stolen in Waterford last Christmas: “It’s not as bad as then. Guards were coming into us with bags of stolen cosmetics, but it usually belonged to Shaws or Debenhams. You’d know which store owns what. We have a security guard for the store and there’s other security guards for the shopping centre, so we can give them a call if we need to.”
Ms Kiely often saw products stolen from Inglots end up on buy-and-sell pages on social media. “They’d rob stock, then post it trying to sell it on. I’d go onto the page and see people commenting under the posts asking if [the poster will] be getting anymore, they’d reply back ‘yeah, definitely’ and I’d be thinking straight away, ‘No, you’re not!’
“Really though it’s only ever testers that get taken, never stock. And testers aren’t hygienic. They’ve been used by people coming into the shop so they’ve already lost value,” Ms Kiely said.
Meanwhile Declan Conway of City Jewellers, Michael Street, said that when it comes to Christmas time he needs “eyes in the back of the head, shoulder, everywhere. We were robbed two times in 2011 – one took €90,000 and one took €30,000. It was a hard thing to get over and then the insurance took a long time [to sort out].”
In the first robbery the thief stole 25 diamond rings at knifepoint. Although neither robbery occurred during the Christmas season, Mr Conway isn’t interested in taking chances. “We’ve good security now, CCTV, the whole lot. And anytime we had an incident we found the guards to be very good,” he said
Ted Halligan – owner of An Siopa, a jewellers located in the Apple Market – takes similar precautions. “We have six cameras as well as time-locks on the safe so we’re fairly secure. But it would happen, anytime it’s happened in the past it’s been more petty thieving, opportunistic more than anything. There’s a lot of pressure around this time so it’s not surprising,” said Mr Halligan.
Supt Chris Delaney said the spike in activity is “very predictable” and therefore can be planned for. As well as extra Garda staff for Christmas there are often more court sittings scheduled, according to the superintendent.
The overall rate for thefts from shops for 2017 in Waterford showed a slight increase of two per cent – 778 across the three policing districts. Broken down that’s 621 for Waterford city, 107 for Dungarvan and 50 for Tramore.
Despite having the lowest figure Tramore actually saw thefts from shops jump by almost a quarter whereas Dungarvan saw the opposite – its figure fell by nearly a fifth.
Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan questioned why the latter saw such an improvement, especially as the town saw falls for property crime too.
Dungarvan Supt Mick Lacey said he insists one guard must be on the town at all times to maintain a visible presence. The force is also assisted because “the vast majority of the business community supports the Garda,” particularly with the use of CCTV according to Supt Lacey.