Burglary spree linked to Traveller families
Gardai have identified members of four extended and inter-related traveller families based in west Dublin who, they believe, have been responsible for a campaign of burglary right across the country.
Six men were arrested last weekend in the Tallaght area and other arrests have been made in recent weeks in the Ballyfermot Upper area. They were released and files are being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
During one arrest gardai found a man had been showing his sons aged five and six how to avoid leaving fingerprint evidence by wearing socks over their hands.
A nationwide garda operation has identified members of gangs suspected of carrying out the series of burglaries. Gardai in the Midlands also recently monitored two women in a car with children who they believed were carrying out surveillance for burglaries.
Throughout the country over the past two years, gangs have been carrying out both night-time and day-time raids on houses and businesses. They tend to take place in concentrated areas with up to a dozen houses and premises robbed in a relatively short period. It is believed the same gangs then target completely different parts of the country.
In a bid to identify the travelling gangs, gardai in Galway have installed cameras on the new stretch of motorway to Dublin as there has been an increase in burglaries in east Galway, which they believe has resulted from the better road access from Dublin.
The gardai say that from an area with traditionally low levels of burglary, 171 homes and businesses have been burgled so far this year, several of them in "batches".
In the past two weeks, the garda helicopter has been deployed in the Midlands to help track burglars. Westmeath gardai also issued a warning to householders. Gardai say that the gangs have very well thought-out operations, from the surveillance to the fast break-and-entry methods.
It is believed the gangs carry out large numbers of low-value crimes, because if they are caught, it is only for relatively small sums of money or goods and they are unlikely to get a custodial sentence.
In most instances, those caught plead guilty and offer to pay restitution in return for lenience.