Court told of city’s ‘burglary epidemic’

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There has been a “burglary epidemic” in the city in recent months, a court has heard.

A police officer made the claim as 20-year-old Ryan Harkin appeared at the local Magistrates Court accused of burglary.

Harkin, of Inishowen Gardens, is charged with burglary with intent to steal, going equipped for theft. He is further charged with handling stolen concert tickets owned by a member of the Culture Company.

The charges relate to an alleged incident in the Prehen area of the city on April 23.

Derry Msgistrates Court heard that police went to the Stoneywood area in the early hours of the morning after a resident made an emergency call to report he had detained a man attempting to break into his home.

The resident told officers he heard a noise outside his property and when he went into a downstairs bathroom he saw a man in a black hooded top and white baseball cap with his arm reaching in through the window.

When police searched the area a short time later they allegedly discovered an ice scraper and a pair of leather gloves. They also searched the 20-year-old and found a pair of concert tickets, a bottle of aftershave, deodorant and a woollen hat.

Harkin was arrested and after caution it was claimed he told police “how can it be burglary when I wasn’t in the house?”.

Opposing bail, the officer told the court Harkin has a relevant record, with 30 convictions in the last three years including seven for burglary, four for theft and three for going equipped for theft.

He added that police believed there is a “burglary epidemic” in the city over recent months and Harkin has shown himself to be involved in this “heinous behaviour”.

The officer said that police fear Harkin, whose “life revolves around crime”, would re-offend or not adhere to bail conditions.

District Judge Barney McElholm said Harkin was a “recidivist offender” and “at this stage there is a very, very strong prima facie case against him”.

He added: “I am not surprised to hear that there is an epidemic of burglary, I see it every day in here. My primary duty is to protect the public and I consider Ryan Harkin to be a very, very real risk of further harm to the public by burgling houses”.

As Judge McElholm refused bail, Harkin began shouting obscenities from the dock and said he was being remanded for “not even being inside a house”.

The 20-year-old will appear in court again via videolink at a later date.