High number of burglary reports in Wexford is cause for concern for local residents
A spate of burglaries have been reported across Wexford town in recent weeks as thieves target vulnerable gift-laden homes in the run-up to Christmas.
A resident of Pineridge, who wished to remain anonymous, described how she returned home on December 14 to find her house trashed and burgled.
'Home is a place to feel safe and warm and happy to come home to but this is not the case when you walk in and realise that a total stranger has been in your house,' she told the Wexford People last week. 'My possessions, what was left of them, were left lying all around the bed and the floor. All of my personal items and my life were exposed. The TV was broken on the floor and empty jewellery boxes were scattered around. The Christmas gifts that I got for my grandchildren were gone.'
The homeowner, who lives alone, returned to her home at 11 p.m. to find her patio door smashed and many of her possessions gone. She called the gardaí when she saw what had happened.
'Now I either don't want to go out or I am afraid of coming home to an empty house,' she continued. 'I refuse to get upset or anxious about it all but it is hard to sleep and relax. My life has changed and my home is no longer what it was.'
Sgt Graham Roley at Wexford Garda Station confirmed this break-in and said it was one of two recent incidents in the Pineridge estate. The other break-in took place between 6.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. on December 17.
On December 14, Wolfe Tone Villas resident Therese Murphy was staying her parent's house with her child when an intruder broke in. She told the Wexford People how she knew somebody was in the house.
'I was upstairs in the house with my three-year-old when the dog alerted me,' she explained. 'I went downstairs and somebody was in the front room. I picked up a poker, threw it at him and ran. He ran out of the house then.'
Therese said that the intruder took a watch that her father had received for his 60th birthday.
'It could have been a lot worse,' she said.
'It's scary but I don't think he knew that I was here. I think he was taking a chance and he was as shocked to find me as I was to find him.'
She said that the Gardaí were alerted to the incident.
In a Facebook post which was shared to the Wexford Neighbourhood Crime Watch page, another man said that his parent's house in Tobar Bán was burgled on December 14. According to him, the stolen items included an expensive handbag containing work information, his father's engraved birthday watch, jewellery and a Kindle tablet.
Sgt Rowley said that another burglary was reported in Farnogue Park on December 14 between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Speaking with this newspaper on Friday, Sgt Rowley said that he was aware of three burglaries in Wexford within the last week.
'We have had a couple of break-ins but it has been no different to any other time,' he said.
'Each time people had gone away and came back and found that their house had been broken into.'
'We investigate everything. If anyone has any information, we advise them to contact us.'
He said that they have 'checkpoints and beat patrols' across Wexford are in place to help to prevent such incidents.
Independent candidate and Selskar native Emmet Moloney has previously said 'Wexford's crime problem' is the focal point of his election campaign. On receiving messages from Wexford residents about break-ins, he made contact with the local Gardaí.
'People who messaged me were concerned about status' on Facebook. It may be a load of hype but judging by amount of people on Facebook, there must be something to it,' he said. 'There definitely have been incidents over the last few nights.'
'I was speaking to one of the inspectors in Wexford Garda station and he gave me an email for the Garda Superintendent. I sent him five questions,' he explained.
These questions covered areas such as the level of burglaries, the number of Gardaí and community Gardaí in Wexford and whether there was a definite line of inquiry in relation to burglaries.
Mr Moloney was told by Garda Freedom of Information Officer Maria Brodigan that a response to his queries may take 20 days.
Former Wexford Councillor Joe Ryan said that his own estate of Cromwellsfort has seen a significant reduction in burglaries since the introduction of a neighbourhood watch scheme.
'However, it might appear that the problem is moving further afield,' he added.
'It is very difficult when something is so mobile to say that any area isn't vulnerable. People have to be on guard. There certainly are grinches who are effectively stealing Christmas from people.'
Mr Ryan referred to new statistics which revealed that burglaries and related offences are highest in Wexford with 256 incidents per 100,000 population saying:
'We know now that areas in Wexford such as Courtown, New Ross and Enniscorthy were significantly above average when it came to number of burglaries. It is not hugely surprising. Until the Gardaí target individuals and give the matter the resources it needs, that's not going to change.'
'A couple of weeks ago, the Gardaí had decided to target the top 200 burglars in the country and we need to know exactly what that means for Wexford town,' he added.
In response to reports, several Wexford residents have organised neighbourhood watch patrols.
The Gardaí have warned homeowners not to post details of their plans on social media. These posts can let others know when your house will be vacated, Gardaí told Newstalk's Breakfast.