A DUBLIN teenager, who was involved with a gang responsible for a spate of letterbox “fishing” burglaries which led to multiple motor thefts, will be sentenced next month.
The Dublin Children's Court heard that the 17-year-old boy used bamboo sticks with a magnet or a hook taped on the end to fish out car keys through unsuspecting home-owners' letterboxes.
His involvement in the crime spree started within days after he was placed on probation by the juvenile court for a robbery offence.
Today, Judge John O'Connor praised the work of gardai who had set up an operation to investigate letterbox fishing burglaries in Dublin and which led to the teen's arrest.
Last month, the boy admitted burglary and motor theft related charges after he was arrested on May 13 last in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, when he and two other males were seen getting out of a Volvo car which, along with a Volkswagen Caddy van, had been stolen in Tallaght, Dublin, the previous day.
Garda David Harte said the youth, who cannot be named because he is a minor, had been arrested as he was about to get into a taxi and admitted he had been in the stolen vehicles.
Gardai recovered a “bamboo stick with a powerful magnet on top” from the stolen Volvo and it had been used for “fishing keys through letterboxes”.
The teen, who was accompanied to his hearing by family members, also admitted that on May 15, 2013, at Belgard Heights Tallaght, he had a screwdriver and gloves for use in theft and on June 16 he again had a screwdriver for the same purpose.
At today's hearing he also entered more guilty pleas to other burglary-motor thefts where he fished car keys out of houses through letterboxes.
The juvenile court heard that on May 3 last at a house in residential estate in Ballycullen, Dublin, he had a stick with a hook on the end and fished out keys to a '04-reg Opel Vectra, again through a letterbox, and the car was then taken. A few minutes later, in the same estate, he was disturbed by the occupant of another house; he ran and dropped the bamboo stick as he got into a car and left the area, it was alleged.
Detective Garda Kieron O'Neill also said the teen was involved in a burglary-motor theft at a house in Knocklyon, Dublin 16 on May 4 last. A '06-reg Saab was taken from the house “by a method known as fishing” and a bamboo stick was used to remove the car keys through the letterbox.
The teen was arrested the following day when he was spotted changing a wheel on the Saab and he made some admissions in relation to the theft of the high-powered car which was left a write-off.
The court heard today that gardai set up an operation to target the burglars and carried out a number of searches which led to the arrest of four people, including the boy, who was accompanied to his hearing today by his parents.
The boy's lawyer said the teenager was the youngest person involved in the incidents and also has charges that have yet to be finalised at two other courts.
“I am regarding this very seriously,” Judge O'Connor warned the boy who was remanded on continuing bail pending sentencing next month when a probation report is to be furnished to the court.