herald

Monday 23 October 2017

BMW gang held after ramming gardai in chase

Two brave garda officers managed to arrest four members of the notorious BMW burglary gang moments after the criminals' high-powered car crashed head-on into their patrol car.

The injured gardai - a man and a woman based at Portlaoise Garda Station - were recovering last night after the dramatic incident on the Mountrath Road outside Portlaoise at around 3pm.

The four criminals, who senior sources say have around 200 previous criminal convictions between them, were being questioned at the local garda station last night.

They are all suspected members of a notorious Traveller burglary gang based in the Tallaght and Rathfarnham areas of the capital who have used high-powered cars to travel from their Dublin base to commit burglaries nationwide.

Gardai believe that the criminals were on their way back to Dublin following burglaries in Cork city and Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, earlier yesterday.

They failed to stop for officers in Cork and drove from a petrol station without paying for fuel in Mountrath before trying to avoid other officers while a garda helicopter chased overhead.

The garda car was hit on the side by the BMW, which then flipped over.

Arrested

One man was arrested as he got out of the BMW, while three others ran into a nearby field before being arrested a short distance away.

Sources said that the brave female officer, who suffered burns and abrasions, managed to hold onto the suspect after he got out of the BMW.

Despite suffering soft tissue damage and a shoulder injury, her male colleague joined other officers in catching the criminals in the field. Jewellery and cash from earlier thefts were found by officers in the overturned vehicle.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission will investigate the incident.

A source told the Herald: "The two gardai are very lucky that they were not seriously injured or killed in that collision.

"But it is not just the lives of gardai who were endangered by the reckless driving of these criminals - members of the public could easily have suffered injuries in some of the towns which the gang drove through."

The suspects in custody are major targets of Operation Fiacla - the gardai's nationwide drive against burglaries.

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The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission have been called to investigate the incident.

A senior source told The Herald: "The two gardai are very lucky that they were not seriously injured or killed in that collision.

"But it is not just the lives of gardai who were endangered by the reckless driving of these criminals - members of the public could easily have suffered injuries in some of the towns which the gang drove through."

All the suspects in custody are well known to gardai and are major targets of Operation Fiacla - the gardai's natiowide drive against burglaries.

And it has emerged that their high powered BMW was collated by officers in Co Kildare last who were investigating burglaries there.

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