The ongoing appeal for the return of the watches that Stephen Carroll had left for his sons prior to his passing from cancer last November has certainly touched heartstrings around the country.
The two Omega watches were stolen during a break-in to his parents’ home in Blackrock the weekend before last but only for the hugely sentimental nature of the story, we possibly wouldn’t have heard about it.
Certainly, I haven’t heard anyone ask the question yet of what else might have been taken that night.
You see, unfortunately break-ins have become almost the norm at present. I’m no statistician but from reading weekly reports in the paper it’s fair to say that there is more than one happening every day in this area.
Such is the regular nature of thefts at present that the recent break-in of six cars in the Belfry Drive area barely caused a ripple outside of those d irectly affected. What made this incident even worse was that two of the cars were destroyed having been set alight by the thieves.
In recent weeks and months more and more homes have been targeted, while businesses have also been affected. There has even cases where people are being openly threatened on the street.
Whether it be for survival, to feed a drug or drink habit or for organised crime purposes, the problem is certainly reaching problem levels.
Indeed, it has got so bad that even a few local vigilantes are taking matters into their own hands by cruising the streets at night to monitor neighbourhoods while people sleep.
I don’t totally blame the Gardaí either. Their resources have been ravaged in recent years and they can’t be everywhere at once.
Louth’s location along the border, an hour from both Dublin and Belfast, with plenty of back roads as well as a motorway running throughout makes it the ideal place for a potential thief to get in and out of quickly.
If we’re to cut down on the amount of thefts in the area then the entire community needs to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity. When it comes to a person’s belongings, it is surely better to be safe than sorry.
Certainly, the current situation cannot be allowed to continue.
I sincerely hope that the Carroll family get the stolen watches back. They are good, decent people who have given a lot to the North East over the years in terms of a service and jobs.
However, don’t be fooled in thinking that theirs is a one-off story. There are many more incidents like this happening week in, week out. Before Christmas there was even numerous reports of presents being stolen from under trees.
We have a serious problem on our hands here and the Stephen Carroll story is only the tip of the iceberg.
Hopefully, if nothing else, it will serve as a reminder to people to secure their homes, look out for their neighbours and keep their community safe. We have a problem but only as a unit can we looking at turning things around.
There will always be break-ins, of course, but the level we’re experiencing of late cannot be allowed to continue.