A 37-year-old career criminal who is suspected of being the male in a 'Bonnie and Clyde' crime spree partnership has been arrested by gardai investigating his involvement in almost 50 burglaries, theft and fraud offences this year.
Among the crimes linked to the notorious thug are heartless thefts from Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin, as well as Tallaght and St Vincent's hospitals, where it is suspected that staff were targeted by the reckless thug and his female accomplice.
The suspect - nicknamed 'Clyde' by a senior source - was still being questioned last night at Longford Garda Station but officers have not yet picked up his partner in crime, a woman in her 30s who has been nicknamed 'Bonnie'.
Notorious outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow travelled the US with their gang during the Great Depression, robbing stores and banks.
Their antics were depicted in the hit 1967 film Bonnie And Clyde, which starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
The 37-year-old in custody, who has been based in the capital recently but is originally from Co Longford, was arrested last Thursday by gardai in the midlands town - just two-and-a-half hours after he was suspected of stealing a handbag at a health centre in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, at 2.30pm.
When Longford gardai arrested the suspect he had already used a bank card stolen in the Mullingar crime on a number of occasions.
However, the officers in Longford were unaware of the Mullingar theft when they originally detained him at 5pm on Thursday. They wanted him for questioning about a separate crime that had happened in their district last Wednesday.
CCTV footage linked the serial criminal, who has well over 150 previous convictions, to a robbery at St Mel's Cathedral in which the victim's wallet - containing debit cards, a driving licence and other documents - was stolen.
The Herald has learned that while in custody in relation to this offence, the suspect has been questioned by gardai from a number of other districts in relation to multiple other crimes.
These include a robbery at a Spar shop in Roscommon town on Thursday, March 14, in which officers suspect the 'Bonnie and Clyde' partnership worked together.
A senior source said the arrested man is a "highly volatile" heroin addict, who has been known to "hide blades in his mouth to give him the opportunity to self-harm in the event of being arrested".
"He has spat blood at gardai in the past and claimed that he has HIV. This is an individual who has targeted elderly nuns and priests, as well as patients and staff in nursing homes and regular hospitals," the senior source added.
"He is facing significant jail time after his arrest last Thursday and is suspected of being involved in 50 crimes since the start of January."
His female accomplice, who is from Longford, has not yet been arrested but she is wanted for questioning in relation to some, but not all, of the crimes her close pal is suspected of.
'Bonnie' has convictions for a number of minor theft offences and was the victim of a brutal assault.
Sources say that she may not get to meet 'Clyde' for many years if gardai are able to gather enough evidence to send him to jail for his spree.
"Apart from being the chief suspect for thefts in three Dublin hospitals, this individual is suspected of robberies at nursing homes in counties Kildare, Offaly and Westmeath," a senior source said.
"He has also hit churches in Leitrim, Longford, Westmeath, Galway and Roscommon, in which the victims have often been elderly priests whose ATM cards have been stolen and then used."