WHEN two jeeps were stolen in the space of four days in the Kilkea Castle area, the locals realised they wanted to do something to try and prevent crime.
A number of them got together and on 1 August they launched the Kilkea community alert group, which is doing its best to bring peace of mind to local people. There are nine people on the alert team, and Iris Greene, one of the members, spoke to the Kildare Nationalist about their work.
“We started the alert on . August and deal with all sorts of things, from missing pets to rubbish dumping to suspicious people in the area,” she explained. “We operate a community alert telephone and people can text in things that are of interest to all of us in our community which in turn, if applicable, can be relayed to the others in the Kilkea community alert area.”
She explained that after the jeeps were stolen, locals heard about a new community alert group that had started in the Moone/Timolin area, which provided them with lots of inspiration.
“We just felt that obviously people were watching,” she said of the jeeps, which were stolen from outside their owners’ homes. “In order to be able to do that they had to be watching to see when people came in and out. So we thought, if there are people watching, why don’t we start watching them? That was the motive behind it.”
The alert group deals with all sorts of things, from loose horses on the road to alarms going off in houses. The nine members look after between 15-20 houses near to them, the owners of which they are in direct contact with. They give older people in the community information on how to keep themselves safe, and how to access personal alarms, and also advise people on keeping their homes more secure.
There are about 130-140 homes in the scheme, and the members of the alert group went from house to house asking people did they want to join. “Ninety-nine per cent joined,” said Iris. “We basically then gave them lots of details, like phone numbers they might need in case of emergency; information on how to safeguard their houses, and then we started on 1 August.”
There is a community alert phone that one member has for a month at a time, and which can be used to contact them by any person taking part.
They work in cooperation with the gardaí, who Iris said “are really pleased about it”. It means that the gardaí can use the alert group to help spread the word about any things of note, and that the group know who to contact in case of emergency.
As well as preventing crime, the intention is to use the group to help organise community activities. “Our intention is that if there are areas, like say that a road where there is rubbish, to text people around and say we are going to clean such a place and whoever wants to turn up can help,” said Iris.
She concluded that the community alert group has been a very beneficial addition to the Kilkea area so far. “It really does improve the community and neighbourhood relations in the village as we all join together to make our area a safer and more secure place to live.’