Detectives targeting new criminal network being led by Dublin brothers
A 'Dirty Thirty' of some of the country's most prolific burglars have emerged as top targets for gardaí following a spate of cross-border break-ins.
The Herald can reveal that the gang, led by two brothers from south Dublin, are under investigation following an increase in burglaries in recent weeks.
Detectives believe several crime groups from across the country are working together to target homes on both sides of the border.
The brothers, who are aged in their early 20s and from the Rathfarnham area, have been identified as the leaders of the mob, who are a prime target for gardaí and the PSNI.
Sources have said they are operating a wider criminal network, made up of around 30 prolific burglars mainly based in Leinster.
Criminals linked to the 'Dirty Thirty' have been investigated for break-ins in Cavan, Monaghan, Tyrone, Armagh and Down.
Several raiders have been arrested by the PSNI or gardaí over a cross-border burglary crime wave, and it is feared they are becoming active again.
"They were prolific two to three years ago, and following cooperation between both police agencies several were charged.
"However, there has been an increase in recent weeks of burglaries, and the fear is that this crew will become even more active with the dark nights getting longer and people returning to work."
One of the mob leaders was arrested earlier this year over a crime spree in the south-west of the country and, despite garda objections, was granted bail.
The 'Dirty Thirty' gang also includes a Tallaght teenager suspected of involvement in a Tyrone break-in that the PSNI are treating as an attempted murder.
An 83-year-old woman was left fighting for her life after a gang broke into her home during a series of raids in the town of Aughnacloy in 2018.
Following cooperation between the PSNI and gardaí, several young Dublin burglars, including the teenage thug, emerged as the chief suspects.
Another key associate of the gang is suspected of fencing stolen high-end jewellery on behalf of the mob.
The 25-year-old, from Tall-aght, was previously jailed after being caught trying to pawn nearly €100,000 worth of jewellery stolen by the gang.
Gardaí in Laois have identified a volatile local criminal and prolific burglar as being associated with the 'Dirty Thirty'.
The man, aged in his mid-20s, has been arrested in relation to break-ins in Northern Ireland and has been investigated for firing shots at gardaí.
"The key members are the two brothers, but they have a wider group around them either through criminal association or relatives which includes some of the country's most prolific burglars," a source said.
"They are organised and forensically aware, which has made them a particular challenge for both police forces to deal with.
"In some instances, they send up a scout car to watch before sending up a different gang to carry out a series of break-ins.
"They have been stopped at times with different number plates in a vehicle to make it harder for gardaí to trace them."
Recent crime figures for Northern Ireland show burglaries were still happening frequently during lockdown, with an average of 343 a month between April and June.
In the Republic, there was a 50pc drop from 2019 in the same period, but gardaí have recorded a slight increase.