Limerick family-run shops tortured by gangs in ongoing aggressive raids

Limerick family-run shops tortured by gangs in ongoing aggressive raids

A family-run convenience shop business in Limerick is losing €250,000 a year through shoplifting and break-ins, its owner has said. Michael Gleeson did an interview with the Irish Independent.

The Gleeson family has five shops in the city but they are becoming increasingly concerned by shoplifting gangs, who often use electric bikes.

“They hit at any time, running through the store grabbing anything they can and then speeding off on electric bikes on which they can easily negotiate traffic. They don’t seem to care and we are very concerned for the safety of our staff and customers,” company director Michael Gleeson told the Irish Independent.

He said he is now considering employing security staff with stab-proof vests and body cameras.

“The kind of measures we are contemplating are in use in Dublin. But it’s now clear that Limerick is going down the same path as Dublin with this type of crime, and we need to have a major rethink on the security measures we have in place.”

Mr Gleeson said there are four gangs operating out of a number of estates. “There are about six or eight youths in each gang. They don’t seem to give a damn about anybody and are getting more aggressive.

Michael told the Irish Independent that “The guards are doing the best they can, and are doing a brilliant job, but the penalties for shoplifting don’t bother these guys. We feel this kind of crime will have to be taken more seriously by the courts. The gangs seem to think that if they are caught they will be back out on the street in a very short period of time, and this even encourages them.

“The cost of these crimes is rising all the time. We now are losing in the region of a quarter of a million euros a year. It’s like being wounded by thousands of cuts. But when we add up the loss at the end of each week it hits home. We employ about 100 people and it’s very hard to sustain losses through theft at the level it’s now at,” he added.

Mr Gleeson said a gang can strike at any time during the day or evening. “They sweep in through a shop like a wave and in seconds they are gone. It’s really frightening,” he said.

“They are strong fellows in their late teens. When they race into a shop they just grab and knock stuff all over the place. They threaten customers and staff, and the shouting and roaring is very frightening.

“They will often produce knives and some time ago they chased one of our staff members who challenged them through (the) streets and viciously assaulted him. The person involved got a stiff prison sentence.

“They have these electric bikes and are able to dart in and out of traffic at speed. We have seen how these violent attacks have evolved in Dublin and security measures have had to be put at a much higher level. Limerick is very close to that now so we must also take another hard look at store security.”

Mr Gleeson said  Limerick City Traders’ Association is now putting a renewed priority on measures to tackle the youth gangs.

Limerick city centre has had a multi-million euro makeover, with greater access for pedestrians. “The city centre looks great, but these gangs must be tackled head-on, otherwise people will be put off coming into the city centre to shop.”