Warning over mobile phone thefts
Almost half a million euro worth of mobile phones have been stolen in Dublin's city centre so far this year.
Gardai in the capital's two central stations recorded 1,066 stolen smartphones in the first quarter of 2013, with the average handset worth an estimated 403 euro.
A new joint campaign, launched by gardai and Dublin City Council, has called for the public to be vigilant against thieves and to block their phones should they be swiped.
Chief Superintendent Michael O'Sullivan from Pearse Street station warned most phone thefts occur in bars, restaurants and nightclubs when people are socialising, and during commuter times.
"If you're out and about in a public area, having a phone in your hand to a thief is similar to having a 50 euro note in your hand," Chief Superintendent O'Sullivan said.
"That's the temptation that's there for a thief. We would urge people to realise that is an important and valuable commodity and to take care of it."
Gardai at Dublin's Pearse Street and Store Street stations believe a total of 430,068 euro worth of smartphones have been snatched so far this year.
The majority of cases were reported to Pearse Street, where 819 were stolen, compared with 247 at Store Street.
The figures from the gardai also showed people are more likely to be targeted by thieves "off street", such as in restaurants and bars, than on the actual street.
Chief Superintendent O'Sullivan also warned there was an international organised criminal element to the theft of phones - with more than half of thieves from outside of Ireland. The garda chief said records showed around 60% of offenders were foreign nationals.