herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Car thefts fall after 229 stolen motors recovered in probe

Operation Shannon has seen a crackdown on car thieves
Operation Shannon has seen a crackdown on car thieves

Gardai have busted a north Dublin organised crime gang that was making a fortune from selling fake NCT certs and other travel documents.

Detectives from the Garda Stolen Motor Vehicle Unit have recovered 229 stolen cars and made around 20 arrests since the start of last year as they continue to probe this mob and other crime factions as part of Operation Shannon.

During last month's major operation in Ballymun, officers also recovered ammunition and a shotgun on waste ground as well as seizing five cars.

It has since emerged that one of the targets of the investigation posted photos of the raid on a social networking site, captioned: "Rats, we are after being found out."

A senior source told the Herald that these actions display the "stupid mentality" of the gang involved in the scam.

"Stupid or not, these individuals have made massive money out of their criminal enterprises and that is why there is such a major clampdown on them now," the source explained.

"It is significant that since the search operation last month that there has been a noticeable decrease in car thefts across the country. It seems that this organisation has become spooked," the source added.

The Stolen Motor Vehicle Unit is also involved in a separate investigation which has been codenamed Operation Butler. Sources have revealed the investigation could lead detectives into one of the biggest car theft rings in the history of the State with the potential to affect hundreds of innocent people who believed they were buying legitimate vehicles over the last number of years.

In March, gardai seized 14 stolen vehicles in Longford, Cavan, Limerick and South Dublin, and it is understood that there are plans for more seizures in the coming months.

The ringleader, a Midlands-based Traveller criminal aged in his early 50s, has been operating since the 1980s.

Last December, it was revealed that gardai recovered €1m worth of vehicles stolen by organised crime gangs in burglaries from homes around the country. Most involved 'fishing' the vehicle keys through the letterbox using magnetic poles.

The seizures were part of Operation Waste, which was launched by Insp Michael O'Connor and a small team of officers from the Garda's Dublin Metropolitan Region traffic department, based at Dublin Castle.

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