By Sean Mac Cárthaigh
There have been dramatic increases in the level of burglaries in many regions in the past year, with incidents of crime up over a third in Kildare and parts of Dublin.
Other areas experiencing a significant rise in such crimes in the 12 months to June include Cork City and Wicklow.
At the same time, official crime figures show a number of areas have also recorded a sharp drop in burglaries — in particular West Cork, Westmeath, Donegal and Galway.
Although recent crime figures published by the CSO showed burglaries rose by 8.4% nationally over the period, there are wide variations in the level of break-ins between different parts of the country.
Almost half of all Garda divisions recorded increases in excess of 10%.
Overall, burglaries have risen in 16 of the 28 Garda divisions in the Republic in the past year, with decreases in 11 divisions and the rate unchanged in one division.
The latest CSO figures shows there has been a surge of burglaries in Kildare and the Dublin Eastern division which covers southside suburbs such as Blackrock, Dundrum and Dún Laoghaire. The number of break-ins in both divisions is up 34% annually. Kildare is already the Garda division with the lowest ratio of gardaí to population of any county in Ireland, while there was also much local opposition in south Dublin to the closure in 2013 of the Garda station in Stepaside which is within the Dublin Eastern division.
An average of almost six burglaries a day were reported in the year ending June 2015 in the Dublin Eastern division — one of the wealthiest areas in the country.
A total of 2,158 break-ins occurred over the period — an annual increase of 549.
In Kildare, 1,645 burglaries were reported in the year to the end of June, up 421 on the previous 12-month period.
At the end of 2014, Kildare had just over 14 gardaí per 10,000 population compared to the national average of almost 24. Some counties including Leitrim, Longford, Sligo and Roscommon had proportionately twice as many gardaí as Kildare, although generally lower crime levels.
Cork City has also experienced a sharp rise in burglaries with the number of reported offences up 26%. A total of 893 burglaries were recorded by gardaí — an increase of 184 over the previous year. Across all six Garda divisions in Dublin, burglaries were up almost 15% on average.
To address growing public concern over burglary levels Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has proposed new legislation which will allow for consecutive prison sentences for anyone who commits repeat burglaries. In addition, anyone with multiple convictions for burglary offences can be refused bail when facing new charges.
The latest CSO figures also come as Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that the State is saving just €500,000 per annum from the closure of 139, predominantly rural Garda stations in recent years.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has directly linked the upsurge in crime to the closure of Garda stations.
However, a number of Garda divisions bucked the national, upward trend in burglaries with notable decreases in the crime.
The Cork West division saw a 31% drop in burglaries in the 12-month period to June. Other counties with falling burglaries were Westmeath (down 28%), Donegal (down 17%) and Galway (down 14%).
Based on the latest CSO figures, the Cork West division has the lowest rate of burglaries in Ireland with just 1.3 offences per 1,000 population. Other counties with very low rates of burglaries include Mayo, Cavan and Monaghan.