12 caravans worth €150k are seized as gardai move in on burglary gangs
Gardai launched a massive raid yesterday against two gangs that have formed an alliance and are suspected of being among the biggest burglary organisations in the country.
The Traveller mob are suspected of being behind a burglary crimewave in recent weeks in the Lucan, Newcastle and Rathcoole areas of south Dublin, but they are also suspected of taking part in crimes across the country, from Co Cork to Cabinteely on the capital's southside.
Yesterday's massive raid started at around 7.30am and led to major road closures in the Rathcoole area.
Members of the targeted gang have been staying at a large field in the area and increasing numbers of people have been living at the site in recent weeks as relatives and associates have returned from the UK to live at the location.
It has emerged there is a dispute over who owns the large field, which was occupied by dozens of people when gardai raided 30 dwellings and initiated a search operation that went on until after 4pm.
A total of 12 stolen caravans were recovered by specialist officers, who estimate the items have a total value of up to €150,000.
Detectives have established that three of these caravans were stolen in Germany, with the rest taken in the UK.
Also recovered was a valuable Ifor Williams trailer which had been stolen in Blackrock, south Dublin, in recent months, and another trailer which had been stolen in Germany.
Gardai also recovered a safe from the site which was being technically and forensically examined last night.
Also recovered by officers were €30,000 of suspected stolen power tools and generators.
Around 100 gardai and other officers were involved in the raid on the gang, which has national and international links.
There were no reported arrests from this phase of the operation.
The Armed Support Unit, backed up members of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), armed detectives from the Clondalkin district and members of the Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit (SMVIU) were involved in the planned operation, which was assisted by the use of the garda helicopter.
Also involved in the raid were social welfare and environmental protection officers.
The latter agency was drafted in after concerns were raised that copper was being burned at the site.
A senior source revealed gardai decided to carry out the raid after getting intelligence that a number of high-end cars, which had been stolen in the Lucan area recently, may had been moved and then stored at the site.
While these vehicles were not recovered, yesterday's operation is still being deemed as a "major success".
The two gangs are originally from different parts of the country.
One has strong Tallaght connections while the other has a strong base at its Co Wexford home.
Gardai believe their alliance has given them the capability to embark on an organised nationwide burglary spree in which €70,000 of cash and items of jewellery were stolen in one raid in Co Cork.
Gardai were on full alert as the major operation in south Co Dublin was being carried out by officers.
Every laneway leading to the halting site had been closed off to the public, with a number of uniformed gardai stationed at each entrance.
Although the trees and tall hedges made it impossible to see the operation taking place, it was evident that there was a hive of activity less than 1km away.
One local resident told the Herald he was "delighted" about the success of yesterday's operation.
"It's clear that this was a very well planned operation and I commend the gardai for taking action against these criminals once and for all," he said.