An increase in burglaries in 2017 was reversed by the end of the year following a new targeted garda operation.

Garda figures show that in the first two months of the winter phase of Operation Thor, the level of reported burglaries was down by almost a quarter across the country.

The ongoing problem with burglaries and the activities of travelling gangs has been highlighted in recent weeks, with violent attacks on vulnerable and elderly people in their homes, particularly in rural Ireland.

Gardaí accepedt that the problem had worsened throughout 2017, but said the launch of the winter phase of Operation Thor in November last year reversed an increasing trend.

Since then, gardaí say reported burglaries have dropped by 23% nationally.

In the southeast, 40% fewer burglaries were reported in December than October.

The reduction was 29% in the east, 25% in the west, 22% in the south, 18% in Dublin and 15% in the northern region.

Gardaí say burglaries are most likely to occur in the evenings between 5pm and 11pm.

They have urged people to be particularly vigilant during these times and to mark their property in such a way that, if stolen, they can be identified as the owner.