Sergeant John Connolly, Westmeath's Crime Prevention Officer, is warning the public not to become complacent regarding home/shed security in the coming months.
"While our house break-ins have reduced due to the good work of the public securing their houses, unfortunately we have witnessed an increase in the theft of ride-on lawnmowers and bicycles in the past two months in Westmeath," Sergeant Connolly said. "These of course are classic summertime items and therefore in-demand items."
Sergeant Connolly is urging the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity they may come by. "These are night time burglaries to date and the most recent ones have been Sunday to Thursday. I would appeal to anyone who is out socialising, taxi drivers, persons heading to work in the early hours, milkmen, in fact anyone who sees suspicious activity to contact Mullingar or Athlone Garda Stations immediately," he said. "A registration or even partial registration can assist us."
Sergeant Connolly says that in the case of a number of break-ins that have occurred, sheds were left open and most had the locks forced or barrels popped. He has offered the following advice to the public:
Ensure your shed is locked; consider an additional lock if you feel there is a weakness in your current mechanism; place your car in front of your shed door at night if possible; consider extending your house alarm to cover your shed if it contains items of value; look at your external lighting, consider motion sensor lighting or dusk to dawn lighting - a good deterrent against criminals; if you are going on holidays have a good neighbour look around your house regularly.
Remember also, a van or trailer is most likely required for the thefts and probably a number of persons needed to move the items quickly. Dont forget a car may also be used by the thieves in convoy with the van.
"I would ask anyone who notices suspicious activity to contact either Athlone or Mullingar Garda Stations," Sergeant Connolly said. "Put the Garda Station numbers into your phone for ease of access. We would be delighted to hear from you and will check on your concerns."
For more information or for advice on crime prevention, contact Sergeant John Connolly on (044 ) 9384000, or the community policing units in Athlone or Mullingar will gladly help.