Over the past two years I have seen an increase in the number of burglaries in which firearms have been the target. With that in mind I sought the assistance of Mr Rob Stapleton, An Garda Síochána Analysis Service based in Mullingar and I looked for an analysis of burglaries where firearms were stolen in Meath in 2010 and 2011. When the report was received a meeting with all the NARGC gun clubs was held in Navan in January 2012 and the findings were brought to the attention of all clubs.
The analysis emphasises that it is important that everybody who has a firearm should ensure their firearms are properly secured as there is criminal intent on stealing them in current times. In 2010 and 2011 there were 24 houses broken into in Meath where firearms were targeted. In total 37 firearms were stolen and 9 recovered. Of the 24 houses burgled, eleven of them had the actual gun safes stolen or removed. Significantly, not one of the houses appears to have had a house alarm installed. Sixty per cent of the houses were broken into on a Friday or Saturday. From the analysis carried out, the South Meath area is particularly targeted for this type of burglary. The hot times were Friday between 10am and 6pm and Saturday between 6pm and 12pm. Of the 37 firearms, nine have been recovered to date, and all of these in Dublin. Another reason why gun safes are being targeted is the possibility that home owners are putting valuables and cash into the safe believing it to be the safest place to secure them. Of the 24 burglaries occurring in 2010 and 2011, ten had valuables stolen such as jewellery, televisions and cash.
Care should be taken when taking part in any competitions. Check that your address is not given and included in any photographs which are published anywhere, as it was identified that one owner whose name and address were included in a photograph after a clay pigeon shooting tournament had his house broken into nearly a year later and his firearm stolen. Be careful when offering firearms, gun dogs and trailers for sale that you do not give out home details. It is better to use a mobile number as you can often judge from speaking with the potential buyer if the caller is genuine or not. Facebook pages and firearm forums are also areas where criminals are searching for information on firearms owners. Once they have fairly basic information they can then carry out a search using other social networks to try and obtain a home address.
It is recommended that only firearms be kept in gun safes. Most importantly, if you have a gun safe please ensure that it is properly secured to the wall and ground. Putting extra security in and around a gun safe will make it difficult for criminals to remove the safe from the wall thereby reducing the number of thefts of firearms. Ensure that proper rawl bolts are used to secure the safe to the wall. House alarms have proved to be the best deterrent. It is worth noting that of the 24 houses broken into, none had a house alarm.
If you are a firearm owner please ensure you make every effort to secure the firearm so that criminals cannot easily steal it. We need to try and reduce the number of thefts of firearms from households and much can be done by licence holders with a little effort and thought. It is worth taking a few minutes to check the security of your firearm and considering if you can improve it. Please do it now; do not wait until it is too late.
Sergeant Dean Kerins
Crime Prevention Officer
Athlumney House, Navan.
NOTE: NARGC is happy to endorse this article by Sergeant Kerins and we urge all licence holders to take particular note of this article and to visit the link below on the NARGC website for licence holder behaviours which are unacceptable to NARGC.