IRISH Rail have told The Mayo News that while it is rare that a passenger on their services would be the victim of a theft while on the train, they advise all customers to be mindful of their personal belongings both at train stations and when onboard.
Last week, two Danish tourists travelling on one of the Westport to Dublin Heuston daytime services, were devastated to discover that one of their suitcases had been stolen from the train.
Eyewitnesses reported that a man and woman boarded the train in Athlone and alighted again in Tullamore. Another passenger, who was returning from the toilet, saw the woman take a suitcase with her from one of the luggage racks, which are adjacent to the exits on Irish Rail trains. The couple did not have any luggage when they boarded and other passengers in the carriage were adamant there was no possibility that the taking of the suitcase could have been an honest mistake. The eyewitness subsequently [just after the train had left Tullamore] realised that this case may not belong to the woman who removed it, and it soon transpired that it was the property of one of the Danish ladies, who were on the final day of their holiday in Ireland, and were returning to Dublin to fly home to Denmark.
A Westport man who came to their aid on board the train after the theft, described them as being ‘very upset’ by the loss of their personal belongings and items and presents they had purchased while on their holiday. He told The Mayo News it gave the ladies a bad impression of Ireland, and security in the country, which he and other passengers apologised to them for.
The passenger said they all felt practically helpless to do anything meaningful to rectify the situation while on the moving train, but Gardaí were contacted and Irish Rail staff became involved when the train arrived in Heuston Station. These staff were described as being very helpful and sympathetic.
However, with a flight to catch, the tourists, who had their passports and wallets on their persons, had no choice but to travel onto Dublin Airport and were not expecting that their belongings would ever be recovered. The Westport man explained that the thieves, who he described as being loud and seemingly intoxicated on board the train, had a big head start before Gardaí might have been able to intercept them.
When contacted with specific questions by The Mayo News last week, a spokesperson for Irish Rail said that in 2016 and so far in 2017 they have had 110 reported incidents of thefts either onboard, at a station or from a car parked at the station by customers. It was further clarified that only five of these incidents involved onboard theft, with the vast majority being at a station.
“This incident must have been very distressing for the customers involved. Thankfully such incidents on our services are rare, but can nonetheless cause terrible hardship. It is true that luggage racks are located near the exit of the train, but the reason for this is that customers do not have to haul heavy cases a long way down the carriage, but we would advise that customers keep anything of great personal or financial value within their sights at all times.
While this [the theft] is distressing for those involved, it [the number of those affected similarly since January 2016] is a tiny fraction of the 42.8million customers that travelled with us last year,” said the spokesperson.