Three neighbours living in a flooded community in Clare rowed in together last night to wash out two thieves who were on their way to rob evacuated homes in a stolen army boat.
The inflatable Defence Forces dingy was stolen from a farmhouse in Springfield, Clonlara, around 8pm last night.
The pair were eventually cut off by two local men in another boat, as the thieves crossed a flooded field on their way towards unoccupied homes left vacant by evacuated families.
The two robbers made their escape and the boat was returned to the army.
"They were on their way over to houses which were evacuated by families forced out by the flood," said a local source.
"They saw rich pickings in those houses. It's the lowest of the low."
"Imagine stealing a boat down here during the worst flood ever? That boat could be the difference between someone's life being saved or not in these treacherous waters," said a local woman.
"The fella who came across them told them to get the hell out of here or they'd be seeing bubbles."
Another local source said: "I was walking along one of the banks and I saw them, and I knew they weren't local lads. I followed them for a while and then they were cut off by a man in another boat."
Gardai at Ardnacrusha are investigating the incident.
Meanwhile, homes and businesses across the country are continuing to feel the effects of the devastating floods.
The River Shannon has risen by 4cm between Lough Derg and Banagher and is now 1cm above 2009 peak levels.
In Westmeath, some 48 families are in temporary accommodation - including 23 from the Bastion Quay apartments in Athlone.
At least 22 homes are flooded in Galway, with the worst of the problems most evident in the south of the county.
Another 90 homes have access problems, and water levels are "close to peak".
Problems have been exacerbated by turloughs, or seasonal lakes, which are coping with significantly increased volumes of rainfall.
Meanwhile, in Dublin and Kildare, the ESB is discharging some 40 cubic metres of water per second from the Poulaphouca reservoir.
The river is now considered 'bank-full' with some minor overflows expected, but there are no major concerns.