Gardai plan festive crackdown on city pickpocket gangs
GARDAI have launched a special operation to target pickpockets in Dublin city centre after a spate of daylight street thefts.
Senior sources say more than 100 suspects have been arrested since the start of October by the Pearse Street Garda Station's Street Crime Unit and dozens more arrests are expected before Christmas.
Organised gangs of mainly foreign criminals have been targeting the Grafton Street, College Green, St Stephen's Green and Nassau Street area of the capital in a major crimewave.
But gardai now plan to blitz the thieves who have been stealing cash, credit cards and phones from their unsuspecting victims, many of them tourists.
A source said: "The weeks leading up to Christmas are going to be extremely busy with more shoppers on the streets than at any other time of the year – the gangs involved in this criminal activity will be targeting these people.
"With that in mind, undercover gardai who have been mostly working on weekend nights in the Dublin 2 area will now be deployed much more frequently during daylight hours.
"It is expected that extra resources will be allocated to deal with this issue and arrests will be made in a targeted manner."
The initiative is part of the force's successful Operation Aughrim, a major drive against street crime in the capital, including the smartphone thefts epidemic.
It involves a number of specific methods to crack the crimewave, such as swamping theft black spots with up to 20 undercover officers at a time, especially weekends.
Gardai are also closely monitoring suspects and building up intelligence-based profiles on key players in the run-up to raids.
Many of the main targets of the operation are Eastern European – criminals who travel here from Romania and Bulgaria.
More than 1,100 people have been arrested in the past year as part of the operation.