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Clare Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Joe Downey.
Clare Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Joe Downey fearful that stolen shotguns may be used in criminal activity..

How to keep safe this Christmas

As Christmas draws near, Clare’s Crime Prevention Officer is handing out some advice to create awareness among the public and business community of crimes that occur at this time of year.

Sergeant Joe Downey, of Ennis Garda Station, explained that thefts are more frequent at this time of year and are carried out by casual and professional shoplifters, who may be operating in groups.

He advised retailers to ask themselves a number of questions to help deter crime.

– Have you enough staff working, to cope with the extra influx of customers?

– Have all staff received sufficient training in theft prevention and know what to do, in the event that a theft is discovered?

– Are there clear lines of sight throughout the shop, to enable alert staff to spot potential thieves?

– Are the higher value goods within the shop more secure and under surveillance by CCTV cameras?

Sergeant Downey said high value goods should not be stored in blind spots for surveillance and advised all retailers to ensure that the CCTV system is functioning well and is capable of recording clear, recognisable images, which can be downloaded quickly for investigating gardaí, should a theft occur.

He said it is particularly helpful for retailers to have a policy in place regarding the prosecution of shoplifters, and that there are secure procedures in place to safeguard money taken in.

Sergeant Downey said it is very important to ensure, when the shop is closed, that the alarm is set and working properly. In addition, he recommends that sensor lights are linked to the alarm, so that they illuminate on activation and create bright surroundings for the CCTV system to record and alert passerbys.

Addressing street and personal safety, the crime prevention officer said crime can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

“For every crime, there is a victim. Not every culprit will be caught but every victim will suffer. To reduce your risk of injury or loss from crime, always consider your vulnerability, your environment and your individual behaviour. Always prepare for the environment you intend visiting by asking yourself – ‘Do I know how to get there and back’,” he said.

He said when planning a journey, ask the following questions:

– Can I avoid travelling through potential trouble spots?

– Can I travel there alone or do I need to be accompanied?

– What is the safest way of travelling there, walking, driving, bicycle or taxi?

– Do I know anything about the place you are visiting?

– Have I told anyone where I am going, when I will be back and who am I going to meet?

He said there are a number of basic principles to observe when out and about, especially at night when socialising, including staying in the company of people you know.

“The over-consumption of alcohol or drugs, or any other substance, will impair your senses and diminish your ability to cope with potential trouble and leave you vulnerable to criminals,” he said.

He added that it is important to be discrete with money and items of value.

“Avoid lonely or dark areas. Stay in well-lit areas and never get involved in other people’s disputes. Women should avoid the temptation to accompany strangers alone.

“If you become a victim of crime call the gardaí and report the matter immediately.

“This is the time of year to be celebrated and enjoy the festive cheer, so enjoy yourselves but be safe,” Sergeant Downey concluded.

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