A CRIME prevention officer has warned that Facebook pages alerting locals to Garda checkpoints may facilitate criminals to carry out burglaries.
Sergeant Tony Davis said community Facebook pages have in recent years become an effective tool for criminals.
He added that the most common hours for burglars to target homes are between 11am and 5pm, or9pm in the Summer months.
“Community Facebook pages have become hugely popular and while those actively involved in communities may mean well by warning their neighbours about Gardaí in the area, what many don’t realise is that professionals use this kind of information as a valuable part of their research,” he said.
“A lot of the time checkpoints are specifically put in place during the times that criminals operate as a means to identify those responsible for burglaries in the locality.”
He emphasised that a number of checkpoints are specifically set up to identify burglars targetting the area.
“Those who participate in these sorts of crimes are, in actual fact, a very small community so it’s possible to recognise repeat offenders.
“Gardaí can also hone in on anything suspicious such as if a driver is not from the area or even if he or she has travelled as far as from the Midlands. Often they will be travelling with an accomplice and the car can be searched for tools used to break and enter a property,” he added.
Sgt Davis said robberies are not just confined to the home.
“Garden sheds have become very popular for valuables like motorbikes. There is also a huge black market for tools. A number of stolen tools were seized at an open market in Bantry last Summer. Many of the tools stolen here find their way to the UK market and vice versa.”
Social media users are also urged to be vigilant about the personal information they post.
“A number of social media users are now posting where and when they go away during the Summer months.
“A lot of people don’t realise that posting information like this on Facebook is the equivalent of ringing up a newspaper and giving them that same information for the front page.
“On the whole, we need to be more circumspect about the information we make public. There is no one real hotspot for burglaries at the moment. It’s really anywhere off the Link Road that is the most susceptible.”
He advised people to take note of suspicious behaviour in the area.
“During the day, criminals have certain ways of establishing if someone is out of the house. This could be something as simple as ringing a doorbell. The most important thing to do if you suspect a criminal is to take note of their vehicle’s registration plate.”