More than 30 reports of thefts from shops and more than 25 reports of thefts from motor vehicles were reported to Galway gardai in the two-week run-up to Christmas last year.
The figures were released as gardai in Galway have issued a warning to shoppers and premises to be extra vigilant and improve security measures during the Christmas shopping season, a busy and often lucrative time for pickpockets and other thieves.
As the Christmas shopping goes up a gear gardai are advising shoppers and business traders to take a good look at the security levels they have in place and to take precautions.
Gardai say it is important for Christmas shoppers to remember that the professional thief and pickpocket is waiting for the chance to relieve them of cash. Shoppers are advised to organise and plan shopping well and do not withdraw cash from the credit union, bank, post office, or building society until you are ready to use it. It is best to shop early in the day and avoid the last minute rush which is often the ideal time for thieves to operate.
Shoppers are further advised by gardai to consider paying for goods by cheque or credit card if at all possible. If you are carrying cash make your most expensive purchase first, and divide your cash into two parts. Gardai warn shoppers not to carry cash in the pocket of an outer garment and to avoid carrying cash in a wallet in a hip picket as this is an easy target for pickpockets.
When taking your purchases to a car be aware of who is around you and all purchases should be safely stored in the boot of the vehicle out of sight of the opportunistist criminal. Each year gardai throughout the county receive reports of Christmas goods being stolen from parked vehicles while in car parks. Gardai also receive reports of cash being stolen from persons while shopping. Theft from a person, while low, remains a major concern for gardai in the run up to Christmas.
During this busy time traders should ensure they have security procedures in place to reduce the number of crimes committed against them. Gardai advise traders not to hold large amounts of cash on the premises and to make regular lodgements, with at least two staff members doing this but never at the same time of the day. A reputable cash transit company is recommended for large cash amounts and cash should not be kept on the premises or in the home overnight.
As throughout the year, forgeries can unfortunately feature regularly but during the rush of Christmas shopping it is advisable to be extra vigilant of forged €20 and €50 notes. Business people should also be aware of professional gangs of shoplifters that may target premises.