herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Military-trained gang suspects in multiple service station raids

A garda checkpoint.
A garda checkpoint.

A highly-organised military-trained criminal gang is suspected of at least eight raids on service stations across the country.

The crime spree has yielded the mob over €100,000 in cash and cigarettes in the past six weeks.

A massive garda investigation has begun into the Eastern European gang, which has targeted stations from areas as diverse as Fermoy in Co Cork to Finglas in north Dublin.

The latest crime linked to the gang happened at a service station in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, in the early hours of last Saturday following earlier raids in the same county in Ballon and Hacketstown as well as in Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny.

Sources have revealed the gang is suspected of similar raids in north Dublin and in the Portlaoise area of Co Laois this summer.

Professionals

"Garda management are very concerned about this gang who are essentially supreme professionals at what they do and a special plan is being drawn up to target them.

"This operation has two phases, which involves giving crime prevention advice to service station owners as well as attempting to locate and arrest the criminals involved," a senior source explained.

Sources revealed that detectives believe that the gang are Romanian nationals who have received military training and are closely linked with a mob who had been based in Co Wexford last year before they were busted by gardai after a supermarket raid and then fled the country.

"Typically, these criminals are entering the service stations through the roof of the premises by using special equipment to cut into the roof without making noise.

"It is suspected that they carry out detailed covert surveillance on their targets in the days and weeks before they pounce. The crimes are often not detected until the owner comes to open up the premises.

"They are experts in security systems, which means by the time they have broken in they are aware of blind spots in the shops' motion monitors so they ensure that the alarm does not sound when they are in the business and they are very CCTV aware," the source said.

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