Spate of break-ins across district
Thursday, 16 February 2017
A SPATE of burglaries across the district, including an early morning break-in at a Dromore cafe premises, has caused widespread anger within the community.
In the latest incident on Sunday, an intruder burst through the back door of the well-known sit-in and take-out cafe, 'Salt and Pepper', at Main Street, Dromore, at around 5am. It is understood the culprit fled with the cafe till and a sum of money.
It comes just days after a BMW X5 car was also stolen in Omagh after a house was targeted in the Killyclogher Road area overnight sometime between 11.30pm on Wednesday night last and 6.30am on Thursday last.
According to police, a wallet, a set of house keys and other items were also taken during the incident.
In another incident, a house was broken into in the Farmhill Meadows area of Killyclogher on Tuesday evening of last week.
Police have also confirmed that a report was received of a suspicious vehicle in the Farmhill Road of Omagh just after 1.10pm on Thursday last.
Elsewhere, a large quantity of expensive jewellery was taken from a house in the Main Street area of Tempo on Monday, February 6, and a day later a house was entered and ransacked in the Lerrig Heights area of Aughnacloy.
This week, outgoing West Tyrone MLA., Barry McElduff, and Omagh town councillor, Martin McColgan, met with PSNI Chief Inspector, Clive Beatty, to voice their concerns about recent rise of burglaries and thefts in the district.
During the meeting, the representatives urged police to communicate more effectively with victims of theft and improve response times.
Meanwhile, the owner of Salt and Pepper cafe, Gerry McKernan, said the perpetrators caused damage to the electrical works during the break-in which forced the closure of the cafe on Sunday. Police investigations are ongoing.
Speaking to the Tyrone Constitution, Mr McKernan, said: "The intruder was in the premises for around half-an-hour. The till was stolen but thankfully they didn't get away with a significant amount of money.
"Unfortunately it may cost a lot to repair the electrical works and we had to close the cafe on Sunday which would normally open from 11am to late. Nobody needs this kind of disruption.
"I have owned the premises for over 30 years but never have we been targeted like this."
Chairperson of Omagh and Fermanagh District Council, Mary Garrity, who is a regular to the cafe, said she has been left "very upset" by the news.
"I condemn this sort of action. It's not fair and it's an act of vandalism," she said.
"It's terrible the staff have had to go through this ordeal and to lose a day's trade just makes it even worse, especially in such testing times. I'm sure it will take some time for the staff to fix up the damage.
"It's fortunate the perpetrators didn't get away with a lot of money as I'm sure business was busy on Saturday night.
"I'm glad no one was injured in this incident. The cafe opens quite late, especially at the weekend, so it's fortunate no one was hurt."
Councillor Garrity has urged anyone who has any information to bring it to the attention of the police.
"I would remind residents and business owners in the area to remain vigilant and ensure houses and cars are always locked," she added.
Meanwhile, Mr McElduff, and Mr McColgan said a meeting was arranged with Inspector Beatty to allow them an opportunity to communicate directly the serious concerns of the entire community.
"In the meeting, we sought assurances that the PSNI will devise a properly resourced strategy and action plan aimed at tackling these crimes," said Mr McElduff.
"The PSNI Chief Inspector confirmed that there has been 'a spike' in burglaries and thefts in the Omagh district during this calendar year.
"We discussed response times to emergency calls and we focused on a number of specific thefts, including theft of vehicles in the Omagh area and other parts of West Tyrone in recent months.
"We sought answers to specific questions that have been put to us by victims of these incidents as well as their friends and neighbours.
"We were assured that a number of arrests have been made and that court action will follow."
Continuing, Mr McElduff said the police have been challenged to "vigourously pursue those who are carrying out these robberies and thefts, whether they are part of professional teams or whether they are opportunist in nature".
He added: "We also urged the PSNI to communicate better and share maximum information with victims regarding progress or otherwise in their individual case.
"In one case, witnesses contacted the PSNI with details of a burglary, including a car registration, while the actual burglary was taking place in the middle of the afternoon. These witnesses have serious concerns about the slowness of PSNI response in this case and we have demanded a full account of this."
Police would urge anyone that has any information about any of the incidents to report it to police as soon as possible on 101.
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