Three members of an "idiotic but prolific" burglary gang were arrested after brazenly driving to a garda checkpoint following a major pursuit on Wednesday.
They had been collected by a relative of their own crew - who had just sustained horrific injuries after the stolen car he was travelling in crashed, cutting a tree in half in the process.
The three were dressed in different clothing than gardai had observed men in just hours earlier when attempting to carry out a robbery.
It is suspected they had been put up in a safe house by one of their close local associates and given new clothes.
A manhunt was still in place for one suspect in Co Leitrim last night, while a juvenile teenage male was being detained by gardai and a 30-year-old suspected gang member was being treated for horrific "broken bone" injuries at Sligo University Hospital.
Two suspected gang members - aged in their 30s and 20s and with addresses in Navan and Trim in Co Meath - were released from custody at Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station yesterday.
The chain of events began at 4.32am on Wednesday when a five-man Meath-based gang attempted to break into a Centra in Mohill, Co Leitrim, but were disturbed by two unarmed female gardai on routine patrol.
The officers' patrol car was rammed by a stolen SUV which the gang had taken in a burglary in Drumlish, Co Longford, around half an hour earlier.
While the officers were treated for minor injuries at the scene, the gang escaped in a stolen Mercedes car which had been taken in a burglary in Oldcastle, Co Meath, at 3am on Wednesday.
A major garda pursuit began and the Mercedes crashed a short time later, smashing a tree in half in the Drumlish area.
The badly injured 30-year-old driver of the car was "abandoned" by his fellow gang members in the Mercedes, which had flipped onto its roof, and he was still being treated in hospital last night.
It is suspected that the four other thugs were then put up in a safe house by a member of a local Traveller burglary gang who have been specialising in church robberies.
Gardai believe that they were given new clothing and were later picked up by a relative of the injured gang member who had travelled from Co Meath.
However, three of the four were then arrested at a garda checkpoint near Mohill just after 9.30am on Wednesday wearing new clothes.
The man who collected them was not detained.
Gardai are continuing to appeal for information in the case and the Garda Representative Association have "commended the brave actions of our two female colleagues in Mohill", adding that "their actions without doubt ensured the suspects were apprehended and no member of the public was harmed".
"This highlights the dangers of modern policing and risk we are continuously exposed to," Local GRA representative Ray Wims added.
"Thankfully on this occasion my colleagues were not seriously injured."