"Be vigilant" - says Sergeant

Gardaí are advising the public to be more vigilant than ever for thieves, burglars, intruders, and conmen in the run up to Christmas.

That’s the message from Sgt John Connolly, Westmeath’s crime prevention officer who will be giving talks to the public and business people about security in the coming days.

Tonight (Friday ) at the community hall in Mount Temple at 8.30pm he’ll be advising home owners on security measures to keep their property safe from thieves.

His talk will be particularly relevant to people living in rural areas who, across the country are the victims of scams and trespassers.

On Monday he’ll be telling Athlone businessmen how they can burglar-proof their companies when he gives a talk at the Prince of Wales Hotel at 6.30pm.

The sergeant, who is based between Mullingar and Athlone says older people are particular targets for scam artists “partly because they are very decent people,” and they may tend to chat to people who arrive at the door looking for water, wanting to charge their telephone or perhaps make a phone call.

However, while they are busy at the front door, an accomplice may be around the back.

A door chain is vital for people living on their own and a door viewer with a wide angle also helps, according to the sergeant. “Lighting at a minimum at front and back is essential,” he says.

He advises that when strangers come “cold-calling” offering services that homeowners haven’t ordered, people should be very wary and keep a lookout for strangers visiting older neighbours or people on their own.

“Opportunistic criminals” may offer a service and make a deal for €100; however, when the job is done, may look for €1,100 which puts vulnerable people under pressure and adds to their confusion.

“They have even been known to bring people to the bank,” he says.

His advice to tell strangers that you never employ cold callers, and ask for identification which you should investigate. Never take documentation at face value, especially if the only phone number is a mobile number.

Ask for an itemised quotation and seek quotes from other firms offering a similar product if it’s a service you might be interested in. Never pay cash and never leave strangers, even those who seem trustworthy, in your home alone.

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