Hutch thugs using online sites to rob cars from sellers
Associates of the Hutch mob are using reputable buy-and-sell websites to target sellers of second-hand vehicles - and a major Garda crackdown on the lucrative and violent car theft operation is now underway.
There have been about two instances a week in Dublin and other counties in which the junior Hutch gang members have stolen cars to order and terrorised people who had offered the vehicles for sale on websites such as DoneDeal.
The cars are then sold to a north Co Dublin car trader, who is related to a close friend of criminal Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch, and who uses parts from the stolen cars for legitimate customers of his second-hand car business.
Separately, it can now be disclosed that one of the main criminals involved in the crimewave has been locked up for separate offences.
Sources say that the lucrative enterprise is being organised by an associate of cartel murder victim Noel Kirwan, who was shot dead in Ronanstown last December.
This volatile thug, who is aged in his 20s, is classified as one of the capital's "most reckless up-and-coming criminals".
He cannot be named for legal reasons, as he is before the courts on other charges.
The arrest of an older north inner city associate of the volatile criminal is seen as a major blow to the mob's activities.
Last night, a source outlined the gang's modus operandi and said that gardai were investigating a number of suspected cases linked to the mob across the capital and beyond.
"Typically, this crew would identify a car being sold on DoneDeal or similar websites," the source said.
"They would then meet with the person selling the car in a location such as a supermarket car park.
"After meeting the seller, they would ask to go on a test drive with the unfortunate person and, after a short spin up the road, they would produce a weapon and force the seller out of the car before driving off."
While one criminal would be involved in the violent theft of the car, another would act as a "spotter" for the organised crime scam. It has emerged that the stolen vehicles are then taken to a "chop shop" in north Co Dublin, where parts are extracted from the stolen cars to be used on other vehicles.
It is understood that the car trader pays the criminals about €2,000 for each stolen car that they provide for him.
The car trader is a relative of a long-term friend of under-threat criminal Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch.
This pal of 'The Monk' was previously suspected of involvement in some of his most famous alleged crimes, including a Brinks Allied heist in Clonshaugh in 1995 - in which a gang's seizure of IR£3m in cash was a record amount at the time.
The pal of Hutch is aged in his mid-50s and is suspected of being a driver in the massive cash robbery.
Because of his long-standing friendship with 'The Monk', he has been under threat from the rival Kinahan cartel as part of the capital's deadly feud.
Balbriggan gardai and officers from specialist armed units had been conducting almost nightly armed checkpoints at the "peaceful rural location" where he lives.