The Dundalk Town Centre Watch Scheme is one of the first in the republic and is designed to get all traders involved, curb stock losses and reduce crime figures.
It was first set up in 2012 and Sean Farrell is the chairman assisted by Willie Dunne. The rest of the Town Watch committee is made up of gardai and local traders who share information on local retail crime and try to contribute to safer shopping in the town.
They ask that people report all suspicious activity to the gardai or to a town watch member identified by the logo displayed in all members shop fronts.
It is backed by BIDS (Business Improvement District Scheme) and was set up by Dundalk traders to try and curb shoplifting.
Harry Traynor and the security staff at The Marshes Shopping Centre were instrumental in promoting the scheme.
“Ultimately the Town Watch is a self-help scheme,” said Marshes Shopping Centre Manager, Harry Traynor.
“It engages the retail heart of our town with gardai and local authority and works to enhance the quality of life for both the businesses and patrons
“The scheme links business and law enforcement and targets those committing crime and sharing that information.
“There are two means of communication, text message and email. I myself prefer email as it is easy to send out and retain information in that format.
“The Town Watch scheme allows retailers to share activity from reports of simple begging to identifying individuals and groups that are causing trouble.”
Harry says that the scheme has been very beneficial and allows them to keep an eye on offenders, especially those travelling from Belfast, Dublin and Newry.
“If I spot someone who is known to me I can alert other Town Watch members to their presence or if I have an incident, such as a handbag snatching, in the shopping centre, I can report it to other members and maybe they will spot that individual on their CCTV.
“The scheme has been particulary beneficial to local gardai as they receive the information quickly and can act then and there.
“For a scheme such as Town Watch to be a success, it needs the co-operation of everyone and the information sent out must be ‘live’. It has the potential to do great good.”
The group plan on relaunching the scheme in the near future to encourage wider membership around the town.
For further information on the town watch scheme you can contact Dundalk BIDS on 042-9352842 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.dundalkbids.com.