A HOT-AIR balloonist was able to use his GPS tracking system in reverse to trace his stolen jeep to fields in Meath.
Aidan Murphy (45) from Dunshaughlin normally uses the system to track his balloons and never dreamed he would one day depend on it to find his Toyota Landcruiser.
The drama unfolded at 11pm last Thursday when Aidan was enjoying a few pints in his local pub where he received a call from his wife, Alison, to say his jeep had been taken from outside his home.
He said: “I looked at the GPS system on my phone immediately and could see the jeep was parked up as it was stationary on the map.
“When the gardai met me at the pub, I asked them to bring me back to my house for my iPad for a better view on the location. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere off the N2.
“The Garda helicopter support unit was called in and its spotlight was able to detect my jeep hidden behind a hedge in fields between Ashbourne and Rathfeigh at about 1pm.
“Normally I'd use the GPS to bring my jeep to the balloons but this time I used it to bring me to the jeep.”
However, Aidan believes that the jeep was specifically targeted by thieves who returned for the vehicle after a break-in the night before.
Aidan said he noticed the handle on his jeep had been tampered with 24 hours before it was taken.
“On Thursday morning, I noticed the handle was loose and thought it was an attempted break-in. I checked the CCTV at my house and saw that it was actually broken-into at 9.30pm on Wednesday night.
“The back door was open and shut but nothing was taken.
“I firmly believe that whoever was behind the theft got enough information on my jeep on Wednesday night to get a key cut as the ignition was damaged and my keys weren't taken.
“I'm self-employed and the 2008 passenger Landcruiser cost me €70,000.
“There's no way I'd ever have been able to replace it if I didn't get it back.
“The GPS was professionally installed on my phone and every year I deliberate over paying the €150 renewal charge. That €150 saved me €70,000,” he added.
Ashbourne gardai said their investigations into the incident are ongoing.