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Burglars Increasingly Target Open Doors and Windows During Summer Months: New Garda Analysis

2 June 2017 Latest News Local News National News News


  • ‘Defensive planting’ advised as Gardaí launch summer anti-burglary campaign at Bloom.
  • Theft of gardening equipment rises by 23% in summer
  • Don’t post your holiday pics on social media while you are away

Homeowners are being advised to lock up over the summer months as new figures from An Garda Síochána show that almost one in every four break-ins from June to August results from an unsecured door or window.

The analysis also shows that gardening equipment, tools and bikes are more likely to be stolen by thieves during the summer. While break-ins are mostly likely to occur between midnight and 4am, and between noon and 3pm.

As well as securing doors and windows, to coincide with the Bloom Festival, An Garda Síochána is recommending householders to plant prickly plants to help deter thieves.

Known as “defensive planting”, a barrier of prickly hedge along the boundary of a home or underneath a window provides an extra layer of home security, according to Gardaí.

Mahonia, Purple Berberis, Ulex Europeans, Golden Bamboo, Firethorn and Shrub Rose are among the 16 plants Gardaí have listed as barriers that help put off thieves from entering properties.

The advice was given at Bloom in the Park for the launch of the latest Supporting Safer Communities Campaign.

This latest Garda campaign focuses on reducing summertime home burglaries through awareness and promotion of good home security habits. It is part of Operation Thor, which has reduced home burglaries by 30% through preventative and enforcement measures since it began in 2015.

Fresh figures released by the Garda Síochána Analysis Service as part of the campaign show:

• Almost one in four home burglaries during the summer involves entry through an unsecured door or window – this falls to one in six during winter;

• Most summer home burglaries occur late at night between midnight and 4am and in the afternoon between noon and 3pm;

• Overall, there were 16% fewer residential burglaries reported in summer months of 2016 compared to winter months.

The campaign is also highlighting how gardening equipment, tools and bikes are more likely to be stolen by thieves during the summer.
• Theft of gardening equipment rose by 23% in summer last year compared to winter, with €191,522 worth of equipment taken;

• €32,100 worth of ride-on mowers was stolen last summer, compared to €18,000 worth in winter; 

•  Smaller, less expensive tools such as con-saws and chainsaws are stolen more frequently during summer, while larger industrial power tools are more likely to be taken in winter;

• The value of bicycles stolen in summer 2016 was €278,339, compared to €226,342 in winter;

• Sports equipment is also a greater target in summer – €36,620 went missing last summer in contrast to €22,221 in winter.

Sergeant Kelvin Courtney of the Garda Crime Prevention National Centre of Excellence, said: “We want people to be aware of how unsecured doors or windows create an opportunity for a burglar during the summer. Over the next week, community police officers across the country will be very active in advising people how best to avoid such break-ins. Don’t make the job of a burglar any easier for them – that’s the message.

“We are also encouraging homeowners to maintain gardens and prune trees and shrubs, so as to remove hiding places for burglars on our property. A tidy garden also creates the illusion of an occupied home and it improves visibility for the homeowner, or indeed the neighbour who might be looking after your home if you are away on holidays.

“Remember to put away any tools and equipment that could be used to break into our homes. Don’t help the burglar – store aware ladders and tools, use quality locks on garden sheds, and chain valuable property like bicycles within them.

“The summer months are also a good time to think about defensive planting. Hedges and shrubs in the front garden should also be kept to a height of no more than three feet in order to avoid giving a burglar a screen behind which they can hide,” he added.

Sgt. Courtney also advised that people who are on holidays should refrain from posting on social media as it will alert potential burglars that their home is vacant.

“We should make sure our homes look occupied when we’re away on holidays. Cancel deliveries, ask trusted neighbours to regularly check on your home and take away post. Regarding holiday plans, don’t advertise your itinerary on social media, post your holiday pictures when you return and don’t tag people in photographs without their permission. You could be letting people know their house is vacant.”

A list of plants being advised for defensive planting are available below.

Infographics on advice to the public on how to protect themselves from summer burglaries are available on request from the Garda Press Office.

The following plants are those that are known to have thorns, although there are no guarantees that the plant purchased will produce thorns.

• Creeping Juniper. Juniperis horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ – Also known as ‘Blue Rug’ because it has long branches and its prostrate shape forms a flattened blue carpet. It has a thorny stem and foliage

• Blue Spruce. Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ – Rigid branches, irregular dense blue, spiky needles. Height 1-1.25m x 75cm – 1 m. Slow growing. Moist rich soil.

• Common Holly. Ilex agulfolium – Large evergreen shrub, dark green spiked leaves. Large red berries on female plants only. Any well drained soil. Plant with garden compost and bone-meal.

• Giant Rhubarb. (Gunnera manicata)- Giant rhubarb-like leaves on erect stems, abrasive foliage. Can grow up to 2.5m high. Plant by water-side for effect.

• Golden Bamboo. Phyllostachys aurea- Very graceful, forming thick clumps of up to 3.5m high. Less invasive than other bamboos. Hardy. Young shoots in spring

• Chinese Jujube. Zizyphus sativa – Medium sized tree with very spiny pendulous branches. Leaves glossy bright green. Bears clusters of small yellow flowers.

• Firethorn. Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ – Flowers white in June, with bright orange-red berries. Thorny stem. Height 10-15ft. Suitable for north or east-facing wall or as impenetrable hedging.

• Shrub Rose. Rosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hastrup’ – Excellent ground cover, pale pink flowers, very thorny stem. May to September. Plant with garden compost and bone-meal.

• Pencil Christmas Tree. Picea abias ‘Cupressina’ – Medium-sized tree of columnar habit, with ascending spiky branches. Attractive form with dense growth. Avoid dry chalky soils.

• Juniper. Juniperus x media ‘Old Gold’ – Evergreen. Golden-tipped foliage. Prickly foliage. Height 2ft. Spread 6ft. Low growing. Excellent ground cover.

• Purple Berberis. Berberis thunbergil ‘Atropurpurea’- Rich purple foliage. Thorny stem. Medium-sized deciduous. Any soil sunny position.

• Mountain Pine. Pinus mugo ‘Mughus’- A very hardy, large shrub or small tree, with long sharp needles, of dense, bushy habit. Leaves in pairs, 3 – 4cm long, rigid and curved, dark green, cone.

• Blue Pine. Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’- Small to medium-sized tree, spiky needled stem, densely conical habit, with vividly glaucous blue leaves. Likes moist, rich soil.

• Oleaster. Elaeagnus angustifolia – Small deciduous tree, about 4.5 to 6 m (15 to 20 feet) high. Smooth, dark brown branches that often bear spines and narrow, light green leaves that are silvery on the undersides. The flowers are small, greenish, fragrant, and silvery-scaled on the outside, as are the edible, olive-shaped, yellowish fruits, which are sweet but mealy. Hardy, wind resistant, tolerant of poor, dry sites, and thus useful in windbreak hedges.

• Blackthorn. Prunus spinosa – Also called Sloe; spiny shrub. Usually grows less than 3.6 meters (12 feet) tall and has numerous, small leaves. Its dense growth makes it suitable for hedges. White flowers. Bluish-black fruit is used to flavour sloe gin.

• Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry. Ribes speciosum – Fruit bush, spiny, produces greenish to greenish-pink flowers in clusters of two or three. Extremely hardy, thrive in moist, heavy clay soil in cool, humid climate.

In addition, the following thorny plants can also be considered:

Aralia, Chaenomeles, Colletia, Crataegus (including hawthorn/may), Hippophae (sea buckthorn), Maclura, Mahonia, Oplopanax, Osmanthus, Poncirus, Rhamnus, Rosa (climbing & shrub roses), Rubus (bramble), Smilax
Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum)


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