Ruthless gang burgled us on first night in dream home - horrified buyers
Gangs of burglars have been targeting houses on new estates within days of the owners moving in.
The sneak thieves are preying on new homes to strip them of pristine and expensive kitchen appliances worth thousands of euro, gardai have warned.
A family whose new house was broken into, along with four others on the estate on the same night, have added their voice to the warning.
Ciaran O'Donoghue, who lives with his partner and their baby, signed for their new house in the Cois na Mara estate in Bettystown, Co Meath, on May 1 - and it was burgled that night.
Their cooker and hob, which had not been used, were neatly removed after the burglars popped the lock on the back door.
"Four other houses on the estate were done on the same night," Mr O'Donoghue told the Herald.
"It's obviously an organised group who know exactly what they are looking for."
Gardai have confirmed that five houses were broken into between 5.30pm on May 1 and 7.30am on May 2.
Investigators are looking at the possibility that an organised group is targeting new estates because many of the homes are empty, there are few witnesses, and the appliances and white goods that they steal are brand new and easily sold on.
"It wasn't the ideal way to move into your brand new home. It's a stressful enough thing without that trouble," said Mr O'Donoghue.
"But then to see four other houses in the same row were broken into makes it worse.
"Two or three months ago, there were some boilers stolen in break-ins when the place was more of a building site."
Mr O'Donoghue said he would urge anyone buying a newly built house to be alert to this type of break-in and to try to ensure they have their house alarmed as early as possible.
"It's difficult when it comes to insurance," he said.
"Your insurance can only be organised from when you sign for the house and it is yours, but it can be difficult to get phone lines and alarms in before you get the keys of the house.
"We're down about €600 now to replace the cooker and hob. They were taken out so neatly and disconnected perfectly. They knew exactly what they were doing.
"It's an awful way to get to know your neighbours, talking about burglaries. Nobody saw anything. There's no CCTV in the area."
Mr O'Donoghue added: "We would appeal for developers to have better security at their sites so that there is monitoring and a security presence until the houses are transferred to their owners."
Gardai suspect a number of gangs are responsible for similar thefts.
One source said: "There have been other instances of this type of burglary, where houses are targeted and new appliances and boilers are stolen.
"There are a number of suspects in this. There are gangs who travel to these sites and work under cover of darkness or while posing as construction workers so they will blend in."
The most common items stolen in burglaries are jewellery, cash and televisions. But where a house has not been lived in, new appliances are the attraction because they can be easily sold on.