An Garda Síochána has warned that there can be as much as a 20% increase in burglaries during the winter months, when daylight hours are at the lowest level.

During the winter period, break-ins on a premises or property are most likely to occur between 5pm and 9pm on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, gardaí have said.

An Garda Síochána's winter phase of Operation Thor began in October 2023, which is aimed at preventing burglars from exploiting the reduced hours of daylight.

There was a 25% reduction in the number of residential burglaries during the summer phase 2023 of Operation Thor compared with summer 2022.

Annual operation

First established in 2015, this annual operation targets organised criminal gangs and repeat offenders through co-ordinated crime prevention and intelligence-led enforcement activity.

In the eight years since Operation Thor was introduced, burglary and related offences have declined overall. A total of 4,595 burglaries was recorded during the last winter phase of the operation – a reduction of 4,118 from the same period in 2019.

Between April and August of this year (2023), there were 2,230 reported residential burglaries nationwide.

This is a marked reduction on the number which occurred during the 2022 summer phase of Operation Thor (3,067 residential burglaries).

Falling levels

In recent years, the level of residential burglary during winter (October to March) has fallen by 75% since commencement of Operation Thor in 2015.

However, this is contrary to international research, which would suggest that there can be as much as a 20% increase in burglary during the winter months, when daylight hours are at the lowest level.

This is the case as the shorter days and longer, darker nights provide more cover and, therefore, make it easier to break in unnoticed and can also make it easier to see if a property is vacant.

Detective chief superintendent Boland said that it is deeply traumatic for any person when their home or business premises is burgled.

It’s an invasion of privacy and, often times, even if nothing of sentimental or monetary value is taken, the place never feels comfortable to a victim again.


"There are vulnerable people and people who are elderly that live in more rural parts of the country and can be fearful of being burgled. Gardaí are very conscious to protect these people and reassure them of their presence in the community," he said.

This winter, Detective Boland assured that gardaí will be out on patrol across the country to help protect communities and deter criminals from burglary.

Gardaí have outlined a number of steps that can help protect your home whether you are at home or going out:

  • Turn on some lights (LED bulbs are more energy efficient than traditional bulbs).
  • Use timer switches/motion detectors.
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Use a house alarm.
  • Store keys away from windows.
  • Don’t keep large amounts of cash or jewellery in the house.
  • An Garda Síochána has also developed a Property App.

    This free mobile app is available to the public to index and record their personal property - ie jewellery, electronic equipment, bicycles, laptops, cameras, farm machinery, etc.

    In the circumstance that the person then has their property stolen, they can use the in-app reporting tool to easily report the theft of any of the item(s) they have uploaded securely to gardaí.

    Property marking

    An Garda Síochána also promotes the practice of property marking. Property marking engagement days are held by local community policing units and regularly highlighted on Garda social media platforms.