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'Terrifying' canal teen thugs targeted over robberies and attacks

Special garda operation after two armed robberies

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The Bluebell Luas stop – thugs have targeted innocent commuters for robberies and attacks along the tram line

The Bluebell Luas stop – thugs have targeted innocent commuters for robberies and attacks along the tram line

Colin Keegan

The Bluebell Luas stop – thugs have targeted innocent commuters for robberies and attacks along the tram line

A gang of feral teenage thugs who have been involved in a spate of muggings and are wreaking havoc near the Luas line along the Grand Canal are now the focus of a special Garda operation in the capital.

The Herald can reveal that over the last few weeks:

  • The mob are being investigated for two armed robbery incidents in the south inner city this week.
  • On a recent weekend, around 12 people were mugged and their phones and other valuables were stolen
  • The teenage criminals have been using bicycles and electric scooters in their reign of terror along the canal
  • Victims have often been targeted after getting off the Luas

Gardaí in Kilmainham are running the special operation to target the gang of teenage criminals who are responsible for multiple robberies of people along the Grand Canal.

There has been a big increase in robberies and muggings in locations including Bluebell, Inchicore and Drimnagh in recent weeks, including around a dozen incidents on a recent weekend.

Problem

"A special operation has been but in place by Kilmainham gardaí in an attempt to tackle these gangs," a senior source told the Herald.

"Extra resources have been put into place to get a handle on what is becoming an increasingly serious problem.

"There have been a couple of incidents where violence has been used and this crew are robbing people mainly of their phones and wallets, in what can be a very terrifying experience for the victims.

"Gardaí have identified over 10 individuals involved in this crime spree and most of them are teenage juvenile males who are living in the Inchicore and Drimnagh areas, where they have also been causing trouble in the flats where they live in terms of anti-social behaviour.

"These are young criminals who approach their victims on push-bikes, electric scooters and sometimes on foot where they demand mobile phones and other valuables.

"There have been both male and female victims, some of whom were targeted after getting off the Luas after a hard days' work by this gang who hang around the canal.

"The hope and expectation is the policing operation will lead to a vast reduction in this type of crime along the canal as well as led to the arrest of the teenagers involved in it," the source said.

The Herald can also reveal that some of the gang members are being investigated for two armed robbery incidents in Inchicore this week but there have been no arrests made yet in either case.

Two males who were wearing masks entered a convenience store at Bluebell Avenue at 9pm on Wednesday where they threatened staff with knives.

The duo escaped with a small sum of cash from the till before fleeing the shop on foot.

Sources say it is the eighth time that the shop has been robbed in the space of a year, with no arrests being made in relation to any of the crimes.

The following night, a masked male armed with a knife entered a Chinese takeaway on Emmet Road, Inchicore at 11.25pm and threatened staff.

In this incident, the suspect did not manage to get any cash before he fled on foot.

Last December, South Dublin County Council said that CCTV cameras on the Grand Canal that have been repeatedly vandalised were to be reinstated following a spate of attacks on cyclists using the route.

The council, which has responsibility for the maintenance of the 8.5km path, said it will bring the cameras back despite fears they will be further damaged due to "ongoing serious vandalism" along the canal.

Earlier in December, gardaí said they would increase patrols in the area as part of Operation 'Open City', with a particular focus on the Grand Canal and Bluebell area, but crime remains a massive problem there with drug dealing and anti-social behaviour still rampant.

Gardaí announced the increased presence after two cyclists spoke about being attacked by teenagers with metal bars in separate attacks along the Grand Canal cycle path near the Bluebell area.

Yaman Umuroglu and Liam Molloy both shared images of their helmets after the attacks and have also spoken to Joe Duffy on RTÉ's Liveline.

Mr Umuroglu shared an image of his helmet after the attack which happened near the Blackhorse Luas stop and said that he was "ambushed" by the group and left with injuries. His e-bike was also stolen.

Punches

Mr Molloy also detailed a similar incident that happened to him.

"A group of six or seven men stopped me - when I say men, I mean teenagers, they were about 14 years old and they had metal bars. So they stopped me, got me off the bike and they were hitting me with the metal bars and with a few punches," he told Liveline on December 10, 2019.

In March, gardaí said that anti-social crime in the area around the Grand Canal in Dublin had "dramatically declined" since the introduction of a special patrol, but the problem has become much worse in recent weeks.

The garda statement in March came just weeks before a 26-year-old man was taken to hospital after being stabbed multiple times near the Goldenbridge Luas stop.

In May, it was reported that a woman was left seriously injured after being knocked down by a teenager on a scrambler motorbike, a woman's hair was set on fire and a number of other very violent assaults took place - all in the Grand Canal area in Inchicore and Drimnagh.

According to recorded crime data for the second quarter of 2020, published by the Central Statistics Office this week, the number of recorded incidences of theft and robbery between April and June were down on last year's figures, by 38.7pc and 29.9pc respectively.

This was attributed to Covid-19 restrictions which shut down the movement of people and led to more people staying at home, but crime figures have been steadily rising since.