Gardai believe tiger-raid gang behind two similar heists
GARDAI believe the gang responsible for last week's €300,000 tiger kidnapping in Dublin was also behind two similar incidents in the city in the past two years.
Last night, five suspects, including two regarded as major players by senior officers, were questioned about the kidnapping, in which a bank manager was forced to hand over cash while his wife was being held hostage.
Detectives have recovered almost a third of the robbery haul after raids on houses in counties Dublin, Kildare and Meath over the weekend.
Officers discovered €60,000 in the attic of a rented house in Kilcock in north Kildare.
One suspect was in the house when gardai carried out the raid, but ran out the back door and across the gardens of adjoining homes before he was caught and arrested.
Three other men were detained by armed detectives while they sat in a car outside the house -- and gardai believe they were keeping a look-out while the cash was being moved.
One of the suspects had a further €17,000 in his possession when he was arrested and almost €20,000 was discovered in smaller sums in searches carried out in Lucan in west Dublin and in Navan, Co Meath.
The owner of the house in Kilcock was not there when gardai called, but was arrested shortly afterwards at Blanchardstown shopping centre.
Gardai said last night that the overall seizure of around €97,000 was made up of new or almost-new notes.
These were now being forensically examined for fingerprints and other evidence as well as being cross-checked with the numbers of the bank notes taken during the robbery from the Clondalkin branch of Allied Irish Banks last Thursday morning.
The five men were held under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act at Terenure, Crumlin and Rathmines garda stations. This means they could be held for a maximum of seven days without charge. However, three of the five people were last night released without charge.
Gardai told the Irish Independent that two of those held were also key suspects in two other tiger kidnappings in the Dublin region.
They said there were a number of similarities between the Clondalkin incident and a robbery in Irishtown last January when €270,000 was stolen.
In the Clondalkin incident, the AIB manager, Tony Walsh (41), was forced to leave €300,000 for the gang on the seat of a car parked near a supermarket at Cherrywood, Clondalkin, after his wife, Anne, had been abducted from their home at Domville Drive in Templeogue and taken to the Dublin-Wicklow border.
She was tied to the gateway of a quarry but released herself and contact her husband almost three hours after the gang had made off with the cash.
The gang convinced Mr Walsh that they could listen to what he was saying inside the bank and warned him not to alert the bank authorities or his wife would be harmed.
The raiders, who were armed with a sawn-off shotgun and a handgun, had driven him around Corkagh Park in Clondalkin before telling him to go to the bank and take the cash to the car park in his wife's car, a black Nissan Qashqai.
The arrests were made following an operation involving gardai from the Dublin south division, backed up by the organised crime unit and the emergency response unit.