TRADERS in Cork fear ‘organised delinquency’ could hit the retail sector in the run-up to Christmas and have appealed for increased garda numbers in the city centre.
The calls come after gardaí foiled a large scale raid on a sportswear store in the city centre by around 100 youths on Friday evening.
The Garda Armed Support Unit and the Garda Public Order Unit were called to the city centre on Friday evening amid concerns that a raid was organised on social media where participants were asked to wear black and be prepared to rob a JD sportswear shop at around 6pm.
It is believed the incident may have been modelled on a gang raid of a JD Store in London on Halloween night, which is being investigated by police in the UK.
The youths were spotted running down Patrick's Street but a large garda presence is believed to have made the gang abandoned the attempt.
Traders in Cork city now fear this could become an ongoing threat.
“This is a new level of organised delinquency,” said Tom Murphy of Tom Murphy Menswear on Patrick Street.
“The insane thing is, if it had gone ahead we’d be talking about a very drastic thing altogether.
“It could have been so much worse because their plan was to go in and rob the place,” he added.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening in Cork so it’s very concerning."
Mr Murphy said the shop could have been pilfered had it not been for the garda presence in the city at the time.
Pat O’Connell, former president of the Cork Business Association (CBA), said the incident highlights the need for more gardaí in the city centre.
“I’m disgusted at it.
“We have been flagging the fact that there is a lack of police in the city for more than 12 months.
“When you see this type of incident, it’s scary.
“There has been a concern about the behaviour of particular groups in town, the open drug-taking on the streets and coming up to the busiest time of the year, it’s just not acceptable.
“We’ve been screaming for more gardaí and it has to happen.
“Our worst fears were shown to be true on Friday evening when you have people who think they can run into a retail premises, take what they like and run out the door with a belief that they’ll get away with it because there’s not enough police on the ground, or because they’re not afraid of the law.”
A garda spokesman confirmed there was an increased garda presence in the city on Friday evening.