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JCB thief who evaded garda chopper chase

AN ELUSIVE burglar has evaded a garda helicopter after attempting to steal plant machinery from a Kildare building site.

The thief leapt from a JCB he was trying to steal from the Roseberry Hill building site in Newbridge and escaped on foot.

The helicopter was deployed, but despite its hi-tech heat-seeking equipment, gardai could find no trace of the burglar.

The chopper circled neighbouring farmland for hours but could find nothing.

The alert was sounded at 9pm on Thursday, February 24, after gardai were alerted by a member of the public who spotted suspicious behaviour at the building site.

When gardai arrived, they saw a man attempting to leave the site on a JCB and chased him. Gardai believe the thief escaped from the area in a black 4x4 and have appealed for witnesses.

Garda Sergeant Seamus Rothwell, of Newbridge Garda Station, says the JCB was recovered. Second-hand JCBs can be sold for more than €30,000.

The theft of plant machinery has spiked since the economic downturn began.

Up to €1m worth of stolen plant machinery was discovered at warehouses in Balbriggan last December. The haul included 15 plant machinery units ranging from tractors, excavators and teleporters.

Gardai do not believe that the attempted robberies are linked to a spate of thefts in the Newbridge area.

They continue to investigate the mugging of a teenager by four adults.

Mugging

The youth was making his way home on Monday, February 21, at around 6.30pm when he was assaulted by three men and a woman who stole his mobile phone.

The night after the mugging, cash was taken during a break-in at a house in The Grange in Newbridge. And on the same night burglars targeted the home of an elderly woman in the Pairc Mhuire area of the town and stole jewellery.

hnews@herald.ie