Locals on border ‘living in fear’
People in rural areas are living in ‘fear and anxiety’ following a spate of burglaries in the south Mayo/north Galway region over the weekend. Many residents are frightened they could be next, according to local councillor Damien Ryan.
Houses in the villages of Hollymount and Shrule were targeted by a criminal gang between 6.30pm and 9pm on Saturday evening. Stolen items include jewellery and electrical equipment. The houses’ occupants were not at home when the break-ins occurred.
Gardaí believe the burglaries are connected, and are probably linked to similar burglaries which took place on the same night just over the border in Headford and Craughwell, where similar items were stolen. In all cases the rear door of the homes were forced open while the occupants were out.
A similar incident occurred in the village of Robeen, Hollymount, on October 29 last when a television and jewellery was stolen from a private house. Local Fianna Fáil county councillor Damien Ryan told The Mayo News that the criminal gang was targeting vulnerable homes in rural areas.
“It is obvious that they are targeting rural areas, and that they are watching the area closely. The homes targeted have been closely monitored and handpicked. There has been an escalation of burglaries, and it is a matter of great concern for the local people. When it happens in a rural area it deepens the sense of anxiety and fear among the residents, with many people wondering who among them will be targeted next,” Cllr Ryan told The Mayo News.
Gardaí cuts blamed
Cllr Ryan believes the increase in burglaries is connected to the decreased number of gardaí in the south-Mayo district. He believes that these criminal gangs know that resources are thin on the ground and know which areas to target.
A meeting between local representatives and senior gardaí is expected to take place in the next two weeks, and Cllr Ryan said he will be calling for a halt in the reduction of gardaí, and to the closure of garda stations in the area.
“In such a large geographical area, gardaí can only do so much to patrol the area and these gangs know this and know resources are thin on the ground. The number of garda personnel in south Mayo has decreased and it is having an affect on the ground. It is obvious that if there are further decreases in gardaí and station closures there will be an increase in burglaries in the area. There is a level you cannot go below in terms of garda numbers and I will be calling for that not to happen,” he said.
No arrests have been made, and gardaí are looking for witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in the south Mayo/north Galway region. Gardaí are also looking for information regarding a silver Renault Mégane that was seen acting suspiciously at the time.
Anyone with any information should contact the gardaí in Claremorris on 094 9371222.
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