Text alert system could beat shoplifting and retail scams

Gardaí in Mayo are meeting with chambers of commerce from around the county next week to hopefully set up a new text alert system in a bid to tackle retail theft and scams.

The meeting, next Thursday (April 3 ), will be chaired by Chief Superintendent Finbarr O’Brien.

Sergeant Tony Cosgrove, crime prevention officer at Castlebar Garda Station, said a text alert system for the business community could work in a similar way to the community alert systems in place in many rural areas in Mayo.

Through the community alert system, members of the public can contact local gardaí if they see activity arousing suspicion in their area. The gardaí then verify the caller and the information and send the details to a text service provider, who circulates the alert to everyone who has signed up to the community alert system.

Sergeant Cosgrove said that in a business setting the text alert system would see retailers and other business owners sharing information about suspected shoplifters, counterfeit notes in circulation, and other retail theft scams and slight-of-hand tricks they come across.

“It’s an opportunity for businesses to work with gardaí and develop some kind of system so they can tip each other off when they see criminal or suspicious activity,” he explained.

“Retail theft isn’t a huge countywide problem. But it is a problem for any business to be losing stock. Businesses in towns like Castlebar and Ballina are affected more than those in rural towns and villages.”

“Prevention is better than cure,” added Sgt Cosgrove. “So we would be suggesting signage be put in place to make people aware a text alert system is in operation. It could act as a good deterrent.”

If the meeting is successful and there is uptake from the business community, a public meeting open to all business owners is likely to follow on.


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