GARDAÍ have issued a stark warning after it was discovered that four out of a spate of vehicles targetted by thieves last week still had keys in their ignitions when stolen.
Crime prevention officer, Brian McSweeney revealed that a significant number of cars in the city were broken into between November 16 and last Monday (November 23). However, what alarmed him most was that four vehicle owners had left their keys in the ignition and unattended. There were a total of seven cars altogether that had their doors unlocked when targetted. The majority of crimes occurred at around 2am. However, he spoke of how the driver of a delivery van in the city area had their vehicle taken at 6am. The worker had left the van running for just minutes during an early morning delivery. In that time, the criminal managed to access the vehicle before driving off.
Luckily, Gardaí have now managed to retrieve the van and return it to its owner. Notwithstanding, Sgt McSweeney stressed that criminality will continue to thrive as long as people resist advice to lock cars and secure their property.
Cork city Gardaí reported a 23pc decrease in burglaries compared to last year. A total of 250 burglaries in the city division took place between January 1 and August 31 of this year. This is in contrast to 325 city burglaries that took place during the same period in 2019. The common times for burglaries are currently between 5pm and 9pm with a peak time of 8pm. Friday and Saturday are the most common days for homes to be targetted. He warned that this could change following lockdown.
"It's possible that the peak times for burglaries will change with the lifting of Covid restrictions," he said. "At the moment the majority of people are working from home which is a possible contributory factor."
Sgt McSweeney added that a considerably high number of burglaries currently taking place were preventable.
"Last month we had an elderly couple with a state of the art alarm system that hadn't been activated. The burglar made their way in through a bathroom window while the elderly couple in the house slept. The hardest part for them wasn't that there was property taken. It was that the intruder was at the bedside locker just inches from where they slept. A crime like this can emotionally destroy a person. Many don't have the same respect for their home after it's been violated."
He urged people to go the extra mile to protect their property and vehicles.
"We need to start taking responsibility. There has been a noticeable trend stemming from burglaries and car thefts. It's difficult to believe that in this day and age people still leave their backdoors open but this is happening in so many homes. Often parents will leave their doors open for when their son or daughter arrives home."
Sgt McSweeney described the value of alarms when used properly.
"We need to get across to people how important it is to not just to invest in an alarm but to get into the habit of activating it every night. People often make the mistake of only activating an alarm when they go out but it's important to remember that burglaries can occur when a home is occupied too. We are also strongly urging people to invest in outdoor sensor lightning to make the intruder feel that bit more exposed when approaching the house."