'Our farms were both raided by same gang'
Published 23/08/2016 | 02:30
They live around 50km away from each other - but farmers Robin Talbot and Liam Dunne believe they were burgled by the same criminal gang within days of each other.
The two rural crime victims have spoken about the psychological effect of being targeted by thieves, and how it is more damaging than the loss of property.
Mr Talbot (59), a beef farmer from Ballacolla, Co Laois, had his SUV, a Mitsubishi L200, and some farm machinery stolen on June 23. Mr Talbot's two daughters, aged 12 and nine, were in the house during the robbery.
Around three weeks later, the SUV was used to ram a garda checkpoint in Portlaoise.
Four officers were left with injuries following that incident.
He described how the invasion of his family's privacy had a far bigger impact than the loss of valuable goods.
"The value was incidental, it will be sorted out. It was the fact someone was in the place. It plays on your mind," he said.
"It's about more than the pounds, shillings and pence. It's about that invasion of your privacy."
Mr Dunne (61), a tillage farmer from Athy, Co Kildare, had his farm broken into on June 21 and believes it was the same gang responsible as the robbery of Mr Talbot.
Despite installing security measures at his farm in the weeks before the robbery - he had noticed suspicious activity - the criminals managed to escape with his SUV and some equipment.
Father-of-five Mr Dunne also said the psychological impact was the worst effect of the robbery.
"We live quite a bit away, but we believe it was the same gang," he said.
The apparent 'shopping list' of things taken and the fact both SUVs were stolen and used in other crimes were among the similarities in the cases.
"The biggest single problem was the break-in, your own self-security of your own farmyard.
"A farmyard to a farmer is an expression of himself. You build a farmyard, you design it over the years the way you want it," he said.
"To have that violated is quite traumatic. I had never been broken into before.
"For weeks afterwards, my family was waking up and they'd be calling downstairs saying 'I'm hearing this, I'm hearing that' and they should normally be asleep."