Saturday, October 03, 2015

Viewpoint: Join Text Alert

A woman walking her dog mugged by a man looking for cigarettes. Cars stolen and broken into in town estates. Mowing equipment taken, for the second time, from a secure storage facility of the Pitch & Putt Club.

These are just a few of the recent crimes that should be making us not just concerned, but angry, writes Brian Byrne. And more aware of potential for trouble in our town.

Without painting a too-rosy picture, Kilcullen has always been a place where it is safe to walk, alone or with company. Where crime mostly is of the anti-social variety, and perpetrators generally known both to the community and the Garda. Where burglary and other thefts, while the most frequent criminal incidents, had Kilcullen well down the league compared to other towns in Kildare.

But, and not to be alarmist about it, there's a sense that things are getting a bit more difficult. A bit more hard. Maybe we're being looked at as something of a soft target by outside criminals and thieves. It's time to do something to counter this.

We're fortunate here that we still have a fully-staffed Garda Station, albeit only open on a part-time basis. And we have been and are fortunate with the calibre of gardai working out of that station. Quite apart from dealing with crime and keeping the peace, they get involved at community level in many areas.

But dealing with crime is not a one-way street. The gardai have a job to do, but need help and cooperation from the community they serve. I was in a college the other day and on the wall was a big sign 'This is the Person responsible for your Safety'. Instead of a picture of that Person, there was a mirror.

So, let us all keep our eyes open and our minds active about our own security and the security of our neighbours and friends, on a daily and even hourly basis. Especially in the town areas. The Text Alert Scheme established two years ago in Kilcullen's rural hinterlands has been quite successful. Not least by simply encouraging people to keep watch for unusual or suspicious goings-on.

But it shouldn't be confined to the rural areas. With the dark season now getting much closer, it's a good time for individual householders and residents groups in the town itself to join Text Alert. It literally gives the community a direct line to the Garda when something odd is observed. And the knowledge that we have observant people in the community does discourage criminals and crime.

If you're in town today, pick up a Text Alert application form from the Garda Station or Kilcullen Credit Union. Find out more about how you can help keep Kilcullen a relatively crime-free community.

Look in that mirror and remind yourself again who is responsible for your safety, and the security of your friends and neighbours ...