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Daylight robbery at graveyard

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Daylight robbery at graveyard


Thieves also targetting private houses and businesses

Áine Ryan


ROBBED while praying at the graveside of a parent. It is not a crime you would expect to happen in the leafy suburb where Westport’s Aughvale cemetery is located. Sadly, this daring theft is just one of a spate of daylight robberies that have occurred in the heritage town and its environs over the last month.
And according to the town’s incoming Garda Chief, Inspector Joe McKenna his force will not tolerate such criminality in the heritage haven, noted for its low crime rate.
At yesterday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting, Insp McKenna revealed that after three women who had buried someone close to them last week returned to the graveyard later in the day to pray, their handbags were robbed from their nearby car.
“There are gangs out there targeting graveyards. These three women were robbed when they went back to the graveyard and spent some time there, also praying at a parent’s grave,” Insp McKenna revealed.
He told the meeting that the Gardaí were following a certain line of inquiry regarding this recent series of robberies. The daring thieves have also targeted private houses, businesses and the exterior of properties.
“For operational reasons we cannot comment at the moment but there have been far too many of these thefts in the last month. People think burglaries happen at night but many of them are happening during the day.  They need to be more vigilant and careful and watch out for their neighbours also if they are absent or away,” he said.
Insp McKenna continued: “These thieves are stealing lead, copper, oil and jewellery. People must not show signs they are gone away. They should arrange for their post to be collected and put locks on their diesel and home-heating oil tanks. They should also put timers on their lights.”
Insp McKenna was responding to a question by former Detective Garda Christy Hyland, now Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council. Cllr Hyland warned that it is everyone’s responsibility to be vigilant but they must report any suspicious behaviour to the proper authorities.
“Ring the gardaí, that is what they are there for. No point being a hurler on the ditch,” Cllr Hyland said.

New Garda Chief
LATER in the meeting Cllr Hyland said that Supt Mick Murray, who is due to retire in early December, had a very successful tenure in Westport.
“He did say he would take on the wrongdoers here in the town and he delivered on that promise. It was evident over the summer months. Now as Insp McKenna takes charge of this area soon we all know he has his finger on the pulse and he has worked all over the county,” Cllr Hyland said. 
Cllr Hyland also urged the expediting of a CCTV footage system for the town, citing the fact that huge numbers of people converged on Westport.
Budgetary cutbacks have delayed the installation of a system up to now.