As the evenings grow darker, Athlone and the surrounding area has seen a spike in the number of burglaries reported, Garda Sgt Andrew Haran told the Athlone Advertiser.
Thieves smashed a rear window and entered a house in Loughnavalley, outside Ballymore on Monday afternoon, making off with jewellery and cash. Gardaí believe the same thieves broke into another house in Ballymore village earlier that day, but fled when the homeowners returned.
Some days previously, a house in the Arcadia neighbourhood of Athlone was broken into. There the intruders rummaged through bedrooms, again stealing cash and jewellery.
The proximity of the targeted areas to the M6 motorway is believed to be a factor in these burglaries, as thieves from outside Athlone drive through the town looking for quick break-in opportunities.
“There is no doubt that we have had a spike in burglaries in our policing area recently,” said Sgt Haran. Burglaries tend to rise in the run-up to Christmas, as people keep gifts and money at home, and the longer evenings give thieves the cover of darkness.
An elderly couple in Kilbeggan fell victim to another kind of burglarly on Monday, as two men pretending to be from the water board entered their house and stole cash while the couple were distracted.
“This is the type of pretense that you or I might be able to flag, but any time a person suggests that they are from an agency they should not be let in before they show ID. These people do not call out unless you ring them, so be sure of their identity and contact their head office before you even consider letting them in,” said Sgt Haran.
“It’s a sad occasion, and while they weren’t hurt, that doesn’t mean these people aren’t shook after it. They know they were burgled, and that’s not a nice feeling.”
Regarding break-ins, Gardaí are advising people to ensure that doors and windows are kept fully secure, and to arm alarms when leaving. Anything suspicious - no matter how trivial or seemingly insignificant - should be reported to the local Garda station.
Athlone Garda station can be reached on (090 ) 6492609.