Full Moon tonight! High Winds and Spooky

Full moon tonight!   Storm force winds! The area is filled with ghosts and goblins that have been condemned to haunt a specific place for hundreds of years (beginning to know how they feel!).

Only came across the story of the ‘White Lady of Castleknock’ this week.     Extract below from the reynoldshistorycastleknockblog.wordpress.com/ 

A renowned ghost, the ‘White Lady of Castleknock’  is said to appear in the vicinity of the hill at the college.

This goes back to the sixteenth century and the kidnapping of Eileen, beautiful daughter of a Wicklow Chieftain called O’Byrne, by the notorious John Tyrell, brother of the sixth Baron of Castleknock. Anticipating violence at the hands of Tyrell, Eileen is said to have bled to death, having opened her veins with a breast pin.

The ghost of Eileen, a white-robed female figure is said to move around the castle walls at night.

If anyone is aware of additional local ghosts feel free to share in response to this email or on the WhatsApp social feeds.

While circumstances will mean that we will miss our trick or treaters tonight we would like to encourage people to share pictures of their Ghastly Ghouls on the WhatsApp group or by tagging @pineshadleighnw on twitter.  

Happy Halloween everyone!    Stay safe.

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Keyless car theft

We have had two examples in the area in the last month (one in the Pines this week) where intruders have tried to steal cars using scanners to capture the signal from keyless car fobs.

This time last year, we had a similar attempt that was caught on video (shared with Gardaí) and I thought that it would be useful to share some visuals on how fast this can occur. I have put together screenshots that illustrate the process which will hopefully help explain how this occurs.

The attempt, while unsuccessful on this occasion did manage to open the car and it was all over in less than 2 minutes.

If you do have a keyless fob for your car (many modern cars have them) you can prevent the signal from being broadcast by keeping the key in a metal box or a pouch – known as a Faraday box / pouch – and they are available for around €20 online. Sample picture below.

As the evenings and the nights get longer, the opportunities for burglars are greater. Not that we are going far but make sure that you light up the house if you are heading out and put on your alarm when you are in for the night.

Stay safe.

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Garda Crime Prevention Meeting 20th Jan

This evening a group from the Neighbourhood Watch attended the Garda Crime Prevention meeting in Castleknock Community College.   It was hosted by Sergeant Rory Carey who heads the Community Policing team and was addressed by Superintendent Liam Carolan who is responsible for the Gardaí in K District – Blanchardstown, Cabra and Finglas and Sergeant Vincent Connolly who is the Crime Prevention Officer for the district.

Update on Crime Statistics:

  • Acknowledged that there was a spike in burglaries in Castleknock in December with 19 burglaries recorded in Castleknock and 4 in the Carpenterstown area from 1st December to 12th January.   Included 4 in one evening in College Wood.   One aggrevated burglary in that period of time.
  • Significant increase in Garda resources dedicated to burglary patrols in Castleknock since start of Jan.   Covered by overtime and not sustainable in long term but seen as necessary to address the current issues.   48 checkpoints and 164 proactive patrols since Jan 1st.
  • Levels of burglary reported in media and social media is exagerated – not withstanding the fact that there has been a spike.
  • No burglary in the area since Jan 12th and previous to that was one on the 8th Jan.    Not declaring victory yet but progress is being made and Gardai continuing to patrol the area.
  • Several detections and people charged in Castleknock Manor, Park View, Castleknock road.
  • Disrupted others with past records and moved them on from the area.

Cooperation from the public and neighbourhood watch groups is very welcome but need to be careful with the information shared on social media.

  • Not all of it is accurate
  • Do not share photos of people or full reg plates – may be innocent and could jeopardise court case.  Also one case in South East where it triggered a lawsuit for defamation.
  • Sometimes can spread fear rather than improve security
  • Call the Gardai – 999 – if you see something unusual

Blanchardstown is the busiest Garda station in the country and the K District serves 175,000 people.   They have 365 Gardaí based in the station across multiple units – approx 15 in the community policing unit plus another 20 in a community action team (K-CATs) that can be deployed in high priority areas.

Could certainly use additional resources and would like to provide additional support to community policing if the resources allowed.   Careful not to get into a political discussion during the meeting but additional resourcing would allow a higher level of community policing support on an ongoing basis.

Good presentation from Sgt Connolly of the crime prevention group.   We have covered many of these points before but it was good to get the reminder.

  • Primary access points – Front door, Back door, open windows
  • Most likely between 5pm and 10pm
  • Opportunistic burglars are most common – looking for Jewelery and Cash and want to be in and out within 3 minutes
  • Best exercise – go outside your home and pretend that you are locked out.   See all the potential entry areas to your home.
  • Consider high quality locks on doors and windows.   Use locksmiths that are PSA registered. If you have an alarm – use it.   Keep perimiter alarm on at night.
  • Avoid leaving climing aids – bins etc next to windows.   Lock your shed – access to tools. Side gate – best if flush ith the front of the house – curved top.
  • Light up – particularly on Winter evenings
  • CCTV – useful if there is good quality and many options now available but very often you will only get a silouette.   Smart switches other products that can remotely control lights.
  • Cut back trees and shrubs to remove cover for would-be burglars.
  • Do not engage with strangers – selling goods and services, collecting
  • If you do hear an intruder – stay safe – call 999 – do not engage
  • Property marking – photo, register and mark goods – including jewellery.

The Q&A was broadly supportive of the Gardai.   Recognised that the current resource level is unsustainable in the longer term but hope that the peak of activity will pass.    Given the timing we had many of our local representatives at the meeting.   No harm in reminding them that more resources for the Gardai are needed to increase the level of resources into the future.

I would like to thank the Gardai for this open and informative event.    It was good to have the facts delivered in a non political manner and context.   We have a positive relationship with the community policing team through Garda Alex McDermott and Sgt Rory Carey, and we can build on that for the future.

If you do see something unusual the first point of contact should be the Gardaí on 999.

If others have additional observations from the meeting, let me know and we will share them.

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Security Updates

Over the last couple of months we have seen a slight increase in attempted burglaries in the area and while we are still in a very safe area, it is worth reminding ourselves of some actions that we can take to secure our properties.
Locked house

Front and rear garden:

  • If access points to your home are visible from the road and to your neighbours, you give less cover to potential intruders as they try to enter.   Consider whether cutting back some trees / planting would reduce potential cover without losing your privacy in your home.
  • Sensor lights front and back – reduces cover of darkness for potential intruders.
  • Keep your vehicles locked and do not leave coats / bags visible in them
  • Side gates – tall enough to make access difficult – locked and avoid leaving bins or other potential steps close to the gates.
  • Sheds – contain valuables and several tools that can be used to facilitate a burglary – keep sheds locked with a sturdy padlock or similar. There has also been a noted increase in thefts of tools from sheds over the last 12 months in the greater Dublin area.
  • Bikes – keep locked and secured.    Take note of serial numbers and take photos of bikes in case of loss.
Doors and Windows:
  • Secure locks and chubb type locks on doors.    Many cylinder locks are prone to what is known as lock snapping which allows an intruder use a vice grip or similar implement to attach to the lock and snap the cylinder within seconds.   There are anti-snap cylinders available which are very reasonable to install and which reduce this risk significantly.   Some detail on lock snapping is available on this UK locksmiths website
  • Patio doors can be particularly vulnerable to being forced open.    There are a number of innovative lock products (Patlock is one) that addresses this vulnerability.
  • Windows – an open window is very attractive for your opportunistic burglar.   Even upstairs windows – particularly if over a balcony or a low roof – present an opportunity.    Window locks are also available and alarm sensors on windows will also detect any attempts to break a window.
  • It may be stating the obvious but Alarms are at their most effective when they are switched on.  The best advise is to keep your alarm on when you are in the home and especially at night.   Do some research on your alarm ‘Zones’ as this will give you an indication in the case of an alarm activation.
  • Monitored alarms will send alerts to nominated keyholders in the case of activation.   Neighbours are also asked to pay attention to alarm activations and to alert authorities if they see something suspicious.
  • If alarms are faulty and frequently activate it becomes less likely that people will pay attention to the activation   it is in your interest to keep the alarm serviced and working well.
  • There are many CCTV options available and most reputable alarm companies will provide advice on what would be most suitable for your needs.
  • With the advances in technology there is an increasing range of options available including video doorbell CCTV cameras from companies such as Ring and Nest that link to the cloud via your broadband connection.
  • In all cases with CCTV it is important to respect the privacy of neighbours in positioning cameras and coverage.
  • Do not store keys close to your front door as ‘fishing’ for keys through letterboxes is a common way to gain access.
  • As noted in previous updates – keep keyless fobs for modern cars in a tin box to prevent signals being captured and boosted.
Visitors / Contractors:
  • Do not engage with unknown tradespeople, clothes collectors or charity collectors that call to your door.   Engaging with them:
    • Gives them access to your home directly or through the use of distraction burglaries.
    • Gives them license to be in our area and gives them visibility into which homes are empty.
    • Risks being caught up with uninsured or unprofessional trades.
  • We have found several times over the last 48 months that within a week of door to door trades people entering our area, we have had attempted thefts from cars and from houses.
Trusted trades:
  • We have compiled a list of trusted trades that have been recommended by our neighbours for our neighbours.    This list is available here.
  • As you are considering your security requirements, give some thought to engaging with these trades to advise you on what is best for your needs.   Many will offer a free – no obligations consultation.
  • Locksmiths:
  • Alarms: / CCTV:
In considering your security requirements we would recommend that you take a balanced view.   A little knowledge of what is happening in the wider community can increase awareness but it is not intended to alarm.   We still live in a safe area and we are lucky to have a very active neighbourhood and community spirit..

With cooperation from our neighbours, we can make the area less attractive for criminals and the most effective way to do that is to keep an eye out for each other and to report any items that are suspicious to the Gardaí and our neighbourhood watch.

If you do see something suspicious, the first point of contact should be the Gardaí on 999 or 01 6667000.

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Keyless car protection

We have mentioned before reports of thieves with devices for accessing some of the newer keyless car models.

This morning we had an attempted car theft in the Pines which was caught on CCTV which demonstrated just how fast and simple the process is for those with the right equipment.

  • Would-be thief arrives on a bicycle with a small backpack on his back.
  • Walks into drive way and places the backpack against the front window of the house
  • 5 seconds later opens the car with a small electronic device that is about the size of a mobile phone.
  • Unplugs the car (electric)
  • Gets into the car and tries to start it but in this case the signal was most likely not strong enough to start the car.
  • Gets out of the car and moves the backpack to another window and then tries to start the car again.  Fails again.
  • Gets out of the car.   Locks it, plugs it back in and leaves again on his bicycle.

If the CCTV (doorbell cam) had not triggered an alert, there would have been no evidence that anything happened.Faraday box 400

The keys in this case were inside in the rear of the house and most likely that is the positioning within the house that prevented the car from starting but that was more luck than necessarily design.

For those of you with keyless cars the advice is to keep the keys in a box or pouch when not in use that blocks the signal.  These boxes are available online (faraday box or pouch) or in shops like Halfords for around €20.   A tin box may also achieve the same result.

Please be aware that we have someone in the area that is using this equipment and take appropriate precautions.

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Neighbours’ Night 2019 – Photo Gallery

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Thanks to Nora Doyle for the wonderful photos from the night.

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Neighbours’ Night – Thank you

Thanks to all that joined us in Castleknock Tennis Club on Friday night for some dinner, music and chat.    The venue was beautiful and we had 95 neighbours and friends join for dinner and it was a very successful night.   Earlier in the day 33 neighbours ventured out on to the fairways of Westmanstown Golf Club.  Thanks also to those not attending that volunteered to keep a special eye out while the others partied.

There are many people that contribute to the success of such a night and in naming some, i run the risk of missing out on others.   But here goes.

Special thanks to the street coordinators and the social committee that took charge of the event and that were there to help things run smoothly on the day.

Thanks to the team at Westmanstown Golf Club, to its 2019 Club Captain Cathal O’Reilly and members for making us feel so welcome at the club.    The course was in wonderful condition and the weather behaved itself on the day.    Thanks to Michael Matson who managed to get everyone out on time, to John Murphy who did the cards for the event and to Seamus McCabe for his help with Michael and John in preparing the teams and timesheets.

Congratulations to the winning teams in the golf scramble on Friday and to all of those that took part in the event.

1.      First place was Dan O’Shea, Freda Gallagher, Liam Delaney and Seamus Cowman.

2.      Second was John Murphy, Ita Murphy, Tom O’Meara and John Forde and

3.      Third was Tom Kennington, Anne Flinter, Michael Drennan and Pat Sheridan.

The tennis club proved to be a great venue for our group and again we were made very welcome and well looked after by the staff and the caterers.   The new facilities are wonderful and the fact that it is walking distance from home was a bonus.

Thanks to Liam Delaney for guiding us through the night as MC, to John Murphy who led the arrangements with the Tennis club, to Freda Gallagher for the kind words and presentation (much appreciated) and to Nora Doyle who had us all looking our best and striking poses for photos on the night.  We hope to post a link to some of those photos on the website in the coming days.

Special thanks to Tom Carpenter, Dave O’Meara, Frances and John Fallon and the other members of the band that entertained us and really engaged the group on the night.    For those that want to hear more or that may have missed them on the night, they are playing a special fundraising gig in Myos this Thursday night in aid of a deaf school run by an Irish priest in Ambo, Ethiopia. It is a very worthwhile cause and it promises to be an excellent night.

We had some wonderful prizes for the golf and spot prizes donated by businesses and individuals for the event.   Not sure that I have captured all (and apologies for any one that I missed) but thank you to:

  • Irish Distillers
  • Dominos Pizza
  • Roselawn Inn
  • Lloyds Pharmacy
  • PerformanSC Supply Chain
  • Wongs’ Restaurant
  • The Anglers Rest
  • Ruth and Alan Hogan
  • Don O’Mahony
  • Padraig Brennan

We got to welcome our new friends from Beechpark Lawn to the group, some new neighbours that have moved into the area, some old friends that have returned and some guests that joined us for the evening.    Thank you all for taking a Friday night out to spend it with us.    There is a great sense of community in the area that has contributed to support we have always received in the Neighbourhood Watch and that is much appreciated.

As much as we enjoyed the evening, we would love to get ideas and feedback on how we can improve for future years.  If you have any feedback, or suggestions for improvement or if you would like to get more involved yourself, please drop me a note and we would love to hear from you.

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CCTV and Data Protection

Information from the office of the Data Protection Commission

More and more of us are installing cameras in our homes – whether it’s a camera to keep an eye on your pet when you’re not there, or a camera on your doorbell so you can use your phone to check who is at the door.

A large volume of the queries we get in to the Data Protection Commission relate to CCTV and data protection, so here we answer some of the most common questions we get about CCTV in the home.

I have cameras inside my house that I can check in on using my smartphone – do I need signs to let visitors to my home know that I have cameras?

The scope of data protection legislation is set out in Article 2 of the GDPR, which states that the GDPR does not apply to the processing of personal data by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity.

This provision is commonly referred to as the household, or domestic, exemption.

What this means is if an internal security camera system is used solely in the course of the homeowner’s personal or household activity, then they will not be subject to the same obligations as a data controller would be under data protection law – so you don’t need to put up signs to make visitors aware, or provide access to the footage from the cameras.

However an important thing to note is that you may become a data controller for the purposes of data protection law depending on what you do with the recorded footage. What this means is if you, for example, publish the footage online or share it on social media then you may become subject to the obligations of a data controller. Read the DPC’s Guidance on the use of CCTV for data controllers.

But in general, the use of such systems does not fall within the scope of data protection.

I have a video doorbell that I can monitor on my smartphone – does that make me a data controller?

Similar to the cameras inside the home, a smart doorbell is likely to fall within the domestic exemption as its use will be connected purely with the homeowner’s personal or household activity.

Where this may differ from the previous scenario is if the camera on the doorbell is pointed towards a publicly accessible area and is capable of recording individuals in that area.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has established in the case of ‘Ryneš’ that the use of a domestic CCTV system that covers a public space falls within the scope of data protection law.

To avoid this, when installing a smart doorbell care should be taken to avoid taking in a publicly accessible area. If this can’t be avoided, a user should consult our guidance on CCTV systems to understand their transparency obligations.

Similarly, the definition of ‘personal data’ only covers information (in this case a video recording) where people are identified or identifiable.

What this means is any video footage which captures images of people where they can’t actually be identified wouldn’t be personal data at all. For example, the doorbell would probably capture a pretty clear picture of the person at the door, but might be designed or positioned so that any images of people on a public street are too obscured or low-quality to actually identify them.

I have CCTV cameras outside my house pointing to my driveway and garden – am I still exempt from data protection law?

This is similar to the situation for the smart doorbell. As long as your cameras are only capturing your garden or driveway and do not capture a public space, then the household exemption applies. However if the direction or angle the cameras are pointing in captures a public space – for example the footpath, a roadway or back alley – then it will likely fall within the scope of data protection law and you will be a data controller if it captures identifiable images of people on the public space. Care should also be taken to avoid capturing your neighbours’ properties (their house, garden etc…) as this would intrude upon their privacy.

Again, if this can’t be avoided, you should consult our CCTV systems guidance.

Read – Guidance on the use of CCTV systems for individuals

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Holiday Security and Other Updates

Schools are off, traffic is lighter and although the weather may not be providing the summer experience of 2018, it is holiday time for many people.

Holiday Security

For those heading off on holidays we wish you safe travels.    Before you go, there are a few important items to consider.

  • Use timers for lights to make it less obvious that the house is empty.
  • Inform neighbours that you will be away and let them know who they can call if your alarm is activated.
  • Have a friend or neighbour check on your home and remove visible post.
  • Make sure that pets are properly cared or and not left alone as this can be distressing for both the pets and the neighbours that experience their distress,
  • Cut grass before you leave and ask a neighbour to bring in your bins if necessary.

For those at home – there is nowhere better that Ireland when the weather cooperates.

  • Be alert to alarm activations and take the time to investigate while maintaining your own safety and being conscious of your neighbour’s privacy.
  • Contact the nominated key holder (if known) or check with other neighbours.
  • Be alert for suspicious characters, strange cars and vans and bogus callers in the area.
  • If you do see something suspicious contact the Gardaí in Blanchardstown on 01 6667000 and inform your neighbourhood watch street coordinator.

Unknown Tradesmen / Collectors 

Particularly at this time of the year we need to be alert to unknown trades people calling door to door offering to do work.    They are invariably ‘doing some work for some of your neighbours’ and offering a great deal as a result.

While many may be genuine, there are many risks associated with engaging with such trades.
– Scams on overcharging and seeking additional payments for work not done
– Distraction burglaries while you are engaged with them
– What happens if they are injured on your property?   Are they insured?
– Use of this as a way of assessing which homes are empty – particularly at this time of year.

Engaging with such trades puts you and your neighbours at risk.     In an area as small as our own – we have experienced all of the above issues over in just the last 4 years.    Our advice is not to engage with such trades and not to give them the excuse to wander from house to house in our area.

We have been fortunate in our neighbourhood area, not to have had much criminal activity.   We have had 4 break-ins over the last 4 years and around 9 attempted break-ins in that same period.   On at least 5 occasions in that period, a break-in or attempted break-in occurred (in our area – or a neighbouring area such as this week with Beechpark) within 48 hours of our receiving a report of suspicious trades in the area.   Some of that may be coincidence but the advice from Gardaí is also not to engage.

We have compiled a list of tradespeople that have been recommended by neighbours and this is available on www.pineshandleigh.com.   We would be happy to add to this if you have other trades that you can recommend.

Castleknock Tidy Towns – doing great work – on Auburn Avenue the next 2 Saturdays

We have all noticed the great work being done by Castleknock Tidy Towns and appreciate their efforts in improving our area.    They have already tackled both ends of Auburn Avenue and I am told that over the next 2 Saturdays, they will be looking to join the dots and continue their work on Auburn Avenue between 10am and 12 noon.

This is a great local initiative with local volunteers showing leadership, including a number from our own area.   Many hands make light work and if you can give some time to join them – especially over the next couple of weeks. it will make a real difference to the area.    They also welcome ‘bored’ teenagers on their holidays and families that want to join in.

You can meet them at Myos at 10am or if you prefer just join them on Auburn Avenue when they arrive.   Wear some old clothes and gloves and yellow hi-vis vests will be provided on the day.   There is tea and coffee in Myos afterwards for those that are interested.

Beechpark Lawn:

Over the last few weeks a letter was distributed to homes in Beechpark Lawn about joining our Neighbourhood Watch area and I believe that the response was overwhelmingly positive.     In the coming weeks we will sign them up for communications and they will also contribute towards the scheme on the same basis as the rest of the homes.

We look forward to welcoming some new neighbours to the group and some new Street-Coordinators for that part of our area.    Although not a major priority, we may want to look at a more inclusive scheme name – Pines Hadleigh Beechpark may be a bit of a mouthful so if you have any suggestions, they are welcome.

Access for Emergency Services:

Dublin Fire Brigade and the National Ambulance service have tweeted a number of times in recent months pictures of situations around Dublin where they have not been able to access homes due to parking on the approach roads.    Hopefully we will not have much need of their services but it is worth checking when parking to ensure that there is enough room for a Fire Brigade or Ambulance to pass if needed.

As always, if you notice something suspicious call the Gardaí on 01 6667000 or 999 and also let your street coordinator know.

Enjoy your summer.

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June Holiday Weekend

It is hard to believe that it is the June Bank Holiday weekend already.

Just a quick note with some updates for you all.

Holiday Weekend:

With the holiday weekend, many will be taking the opportunity to get away for a few days.   We wish you all safe travels and remind you to take care on the roads which will be busy.

For those of us remaining, please keep an extra eye out for strange vehicles, trades people knocking on doors and for alarm activations.    Burglars also know that many homes will be empty and this is an opportunity for them.

We have already started to see the impact of the annual Bloom in the Park traffic on Auburn Avenue.    Gardaí will be out to try to keep things moving but for shorter journeys it is likely that walking or cycling may be the best way to get around.

Garda Tool Marking Event:

Mountjoy Community Policing will be hosting a tool marking and security advice morning on Tuesday 4th June 2019. 

Theft of tools has been a significant problem over the last couple of years and this may be of interest to those with expensive tools and equipment.

The event takes place at Phibsboro Electrical Wholesalers Ltd on North Circular Road between 8.30am and 11.30am.    If interested please bring your tools and  Driving license / photo ID.

Castleknock Tidy Towns:

We have all noticed the great work being done by Castleknock Tidy Towns and appreciate their efforts in improving our area.    They will be out again this Saturday – meeting at 10am at Myos Car park and I believe that they are tackling the area along Castleknock road between the village and the entrance to the Georgian Village.

They would love to see some more volunteers join the group.   If you can be available, bring your gardening clothes, gloves and a brush or a spade and join them.

Beechpark Lawn:

At our AGM we discussed that some residents in Beechpark Lawn expressed an interest in participating in our Neighbourhood Watch scheme.     We met again with them over the last few days and they will canvas opinion among their residents about interest in joining the scheme over the coming weeks.

Our scheme borders Beechpark Lawn (around 35 houses) at the Pines and across Auburn Avenue at Hadleigh Green so if there was an interest from them in joining, they would be very welcome and it would make good sense.

Security Assessments:

We have an open invitation from our local locksmiths (D15 and Lacey Locksmiths) and from B-at-Ease Security solutions (alarms and CCTV) for a free assessment of your current home security.     If I can get an idea of the numbers that might be interested in such an assessment, we might arrange an evening in the coming months where they will be in the area.

Enjoy the bank holiday weekend.

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