An Garda Síochána has today launched a multi-strand national anti-crime strategy - Operation Thor. The Operation will actively target organised crime gangs and repeat offenders through co-ordinated crime prevention and enforcement activity based on intelligence and the latest crime trends and patterns to protect communities.
Operation Thor has been in the planning for several months and was finalised on confirmation of additional funding in areas such as recruitment, fleet, operational expenditure, and public awareness. It is being launched today to coincide with the advent of longer winter nights, which is when burglaries traditionally increase.
Operation Thor will see:
- Increased visibility in local communities to prevent burglaries and related crimes
- More high visibility checkpoints
- Increased patrolling on the motorway network denying criminals use of the roads
- Enhanced use of intelligence, technology and data to target prolific offenders and organised crime gangs.
- A strong focus on working with communities to reduce opportunities for burglaries to take place
- A national awareness campaign to inform people on how to enhance the security of homes
To support Operation Thor, the Government has provided approximately €5m in additional funding. This will be used to provide additional patrols, checkpoints, and rapid armed response where necessary, as well as national and local awareness campaigns. It is estimated that the funding will provide over 100,000 additional patrolling hours by Gardaí in communities.
Building on the success of Operation Fiacla, which has seen over 8,000 people charged for burglary and related crimes and offences, Operation Thor will focus on five main areas to reduce burglary incidents and protect communities.
- Crime investigations and operations: This will see a range of activities including the targeting at national, regional and divisional level of organised crime gangs and prolific offenders; the use of high powered vehicles by the armed Regional Response Units; enhanced covert surveillance; disrupting the stolen goods market; high visibility checkpoints and roads policing supported by ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology to limit the use of the road network by offenders.
- Crime prevention: Crime trend analysis will be used to identify burglary hot-spots and extra high-visibility patrols will then be put into those areas, targeted crime prevention advice will be given to local communities, bail conditions of prolific offenders will be closely monitored, and programmes will be put in place to help reduce re-offending by prolific offenders. Data from the Garda Analysis Service shows that 75% of burglaries are carried out by 25% of offenders.
Victims Support: Victims will be provided with support and advice, and will be kept updated as their case progresses through the justice system. Burglary victims will be provided with crime prevention advice to reduce the risk of re-victimisation.
- Education and awareness: A national advertising campaign will be run during the week of November 16th to inform people on how they can enhance the security of their homes and property. The theme of the campaign will be: Lock Up. Light Up. This will be supported by local awareness activity.
- Working in partnership: For Operation Thor, we have worked with the Department of Justice and Equality on the required measures to support this Operation. We are working with the Courts Service and Probation Service on programmes to reduce re-offending by prolific criminals. We will continue to work with community-based organisation such as the IFA, Neighbourhood Watch, Munitir na Tire and Crimestoppers to prevent crime. Our most important partnership is with the community and working with them through schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch, TextAlert and Community Alert Schemes.
This multi-strand approach will now be used by An Garda Síochána in all future anti-crime strategies.
Launching Operation Thor today, Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said: "We have identified the anti-crime initiatives required and have listened to the concerns of communities – both urban and rural. As we enter the winter burglaries increase. Our focus is on tackling and apprehending the crime gangs and prolific offenders who seek to harm our communities.
"Operation Thor will see a wide-range of measures used to proactively target high impact offenders and suspects, as well as initiatives where we will work with community and community-based groups to prevent burglaries and reduce the opportunities for crime. We are going to have a relentless focus on identifying, targeting, and disrupting criminals and bringing them to justice. We not only target offenders, but also their assets.
"Operation Thor will be intelligence-led. In developing the Operation we have used analysis of the latest crime patterns and burglary trends, research of effective burglary reduction practices, and data on criminal activity.
"A key strand will be working in partnership with communities to keep them safe. Great examples of this are the highly successful Text Alert, Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert schemes.
"We are seeking the support of the community to assist us. Working together, we can reduce the opportunities for criminals.
"We would also urge people to have an alarm, light up their home this winter, lock their doors and windows and sheds, and join or set-up a local crime prevention scheme.”
Enforcement and preventive activities under Operation Thor will be based on regular analysis of the latest crime patterns and burglary trends, and will be kept under constant assessment.
Operation Thor will be co-ordinated at national level. All national and local units will be involved in implementing Operational Thor including Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda Analysis Service, National Forensics Co-ordination Centre, armed Regional Support Units, and Regional Detective Superintendents. Each of the Garda Regional Assistant Commissioners will also introduce measures tailored to reduce crime in their area.
Analysis from the Garda Analysis Services shows that:
- Residential burglaries increase between the hours of 5pm and 10pm during winter
- On average 1 in 5 intruders enter through an unsecured door or window
- Homes that look unoccupied are more vulnerable to burglary
- The most likely entry point for a burglar is a door – 27% of burglaries take place through the front door and 25% through a rear door. Access through a rear window accounts for 28%.
- Burglars tend to target cash and jewellery when breaking into homes
The Text Alert Scheme was set-up by An Garda Síochána, the IFA, Neighbourhood Watch, and Munitir na Tire. It has been running for two years now and there are over 700 Text Alert Groups up and down the country with over 125,000 members. More than one million texts have been sent under the system to advise local communities of suspicious or criminal activity in their local area.