Burglaries in Dundalk soared by an alarming 167% last month compared to the same period last year, shocking new garda figures have revealed.
Gardai are investigating a spate of burglaries in the community as gangs targeted homes in the area.
There were an astonishing 16 burglaries this January alone, compared to just six in January 2020, which is a staggering increase of 167%, according to crime statistics for the Dundalk Garda District.
Inspector Liam Archibald described the significant increase as “stark” but insisted it was a small number of people carrying out the spate of burglaries in the Dundalk district.
Families in the Cooley Peninsula were left “angry and concerned” after five burglaries of their homes were carried out in one night alone recently by thieves that were branded “brazen”.
Inspector Archibald said: “We had a spate of burglaries; we are making progress on some of them.
“We have identified a couple of suspects and we have arrested a number of people as well in relation to some of them.
“While there is an increase it is coming off a small enough base.
“The 167% increase looks stark, but it is of a smaller base and we are making progress on those investigations.”
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters Cllr sought a specific update at the Dundalk Joint Policing Committee meeting last Tuesday on the current investigation into the five burglaries in the Rathcor area of Riverstown two weeks ago.
“It seems what happened in Cooley is part of a number of burglaries that happened in the last number of weeks”, he said.
“A lot of people in the Rathcor and Riverstown are still very angry and shocked about what happened.
“The people carrying out these burglaries appeared very brazen and didn’t care who came along; from looking at the CCTV, it didn’t matter who they would meet or see.
"These burglaries were brazen, and the perpetrators had no concern for the damage caused to property, theft of items or the threat to families and their daily lives.”
The Gardaí advised that good progress had been made on the cases and they were ‘following a definite line of enquiry’, following the identification of a vehicle involved in the incidents in Cooley.
It was also confirmed to Cllr Watters that Gardaí have been liaising with their counterparts in the PSNI in relation to the incidents.
Inspector Archibald said in response to Cllr Watters at the meeting: “We are satisfied that the people who committed these crimes are not from the local area.
“There was good CCTV from a number of premises.
“I can understand that people are concerned given how brazen the burglars were in some places, literally walking past people as they were arriving home.
“We have made good progress.
“We have liaised with the PSNI and our national intelligence unit.
“We are following a definite line of enquiry.”
Cllr Watters welcomed the significant progress in the Garda investigation saying he looked forward to Gardai bringing all involved to justice.
"Let’s hope this issue can be brought to a close as soon as possible”, he said.
Despite there being a massive increase in burglaries many other crimes in the Dundalk Garda District have decreased.
There were no aggravated burglaries last month, while there was one in January 2020.
There was also no robbery from a person since the new year, while there was one for the same period last year.
There were 10 thefts from a shop last month compared to 32 for the same period last year, a decrease of 69%.
Inspector Archibald highlighted that the reduction is predominantly due to the current lockdown and the restricted movement of people.
However, there was a 100% increase in the theft of bikes, with six stolen last month compared to three for the same period last year.