Poll: Are Gardai under-resourced in the fight against rural crime?

In recent weeks countless stories have emerged in relation to rural crime and the increasingly brazen intruders who are causing havoc across the countryside.

These relentless criminals have raided farmyards all over Ireland, taking tractors, trailers, livestock, quads and tools in the process.

More seriously though, is the possibility of the family home being burgled in the middle of the night as you sleep. Worse still is the thought of being viciously assaulted in your own home after being pulled from your bed.

That is the reality that a farmer in Co. Offaly faced last weekend. His house, the family home in which he grew up in, was burgled and he was assaulted by four men who unlawfully broke into his home at approximately 2:00am on Saturday morning (November 4).

He was then locked in a shed while the intruders made their getaway. The alarm was only raised when the farmer – who is in his 50s and lives alone – managed to escape and walk to his neighbours.

Named locally as Richard McKelvey, the farmer was admitted to hospital with minor injuries and was released yesterday evening (November 6).

But the mental trauma of the incident is sure to last longer than any bruise or scar. Since the attack it has been revealed that the farmer’s home was also burgled less than two months ago, with his elderly mother’s jewellery taken in the raid.

The farmer’s sister, Annette Meacle, has come out and called for more resources to be made available to An Garda Siochana in order to deal with rural crime.

Are Gardai under-resourced in the fight against rural crime?

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She also argued that Ireland’s motorway network is aiding criminals to travel long distances and to terrorise rural Ireland.

The widespread installation of CCTV cameras on all motorway exits should be considered in the fight against rural crime, she added.

If this was rolled out, it could become a useful tool when trying to track stolen items or suspects.

Should CCTV be widely installed along Ireland's motorway network?

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Meanwhile, many argue that the consequences facing people who are carrying out these rural crimes are not severe enough to be a deterrent.

Are the consequences for rural crime severe enough?

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But the consequences of these crimes only become a reality if the criminals are apprehended by An Garda Siochana. It is often the case that the culprits of rural crime are never detected in the act, making it extremely difficult for them to be found afterwards.

The results of a survey carried out by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmer’s Association (ICSA) – in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology – revealed that farmers were willing to take a “financial hit” of €1,711 rather than report a theft.

Victims of theft in rural Ireland often turn to local community alert initiatives or local media to spread word of the crime – in the hope of recovering the stolen items. But who should you prioritise to call if you discover something has been stolen from your home or farm?

Who would you contact first if you discovered your home or farm had been burgled?

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The regularity with which burglaries, assaults and other similar crimes are being carried out in rural Ireland is leaving many people to live in fear as the darkness of night sets in.

News of incidents such as the one in Co. Offaly last weekend is sure not to help the confidence levels of those currently living alone in rural Ireland. It also underlines the importance of family members and neighbours in general calling to see people who may be vulnerable or living alone.