Gang stealing high-speed cars 'to order' for getaways
A CRIMINAL gang is stealing high-speed cars to meet the getaway needs of gangland bosses.
The group, whose members are regarded as small-time thieves, is now causing major concern to the garda authorities because its stolen cars are turning up in major crimes.
Gardai believe the gang is stealing "to order" and focusing on vehicles that can be used for a speedy getaway.
Some of the cars have been used in a number of major incidents in recent months, including shootings, gardai believe.
One alleged gang member has been questioned by gardai about the thefts, which have been carried out in several Dublin suburbs.
The thieves usually operate by breaking into a house and taking the car keys, which are often left on a hallway table or in a coat hanging near the front door.
Other houses present even easier targets with the criminals able to access the keys by fishing through the letterbox to lift them from a pocket or a table.
The gang has apparently managed to operate in recent months by being selective. Members have avoided the clutches of the gardai involved in the highly successful crackdown Operation Fiacla and its regional offshoots.
Latest figures show that burglaries nationwide have dropped by a dramatic 25pc between the first and second quarters of the year.
Fiacla was set up on the orders of Commissioner Martin Callinan in February in reaction to the worrying increase of more than 10pc in burglaries in the previous year.
An analysis of the garda swoops shows that many of the burglaries are being carried out by repeat offenders, some of whom were on bail for other offences or had failed to uphold the terms of temporary release from prison.
Officers have recovered cash, jewellery, stolen cars, trailers, farm machinery, chainsaws, electrical goods, copper cylinders and house-breaking implements during their crackdown.
Gardai advised homeowners to implement a few simple measures to deter burglars -- especially those looking for car keys hanging in the hallway.
They recommended installing an alarm, erecting lighting at the front of the house and installing more secure locks at the rear, while also keeping the car keys in a less obvious place.